Maldives: Writer and leading opposition politician Mohamed Nasheed freed

The Writers in Prison Committee of English PEN welcomes the release of opposition politician and writer Mohamed Nasheed, who was freed from house arrest on 21 September 2006. It is expected that the charges of terrorism and sedition will be dropped soon.

Nasheed was among several members of the newly established opposition party the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to be arrested on 12 August 2005 during a peaceful protest in Malé. Nasheed was charged on 23 August 2005 with ‘terrorism’ and ‘sedition’ for ‘inciting violence against the president’ in a speech he made in July 2005.

The following report is from BBC NEWS:

The leader of the main opposition party in the Maldives has been freed from house arrest. Mohamed Nasheed, who heads the Maldivian Democratic Party, had spent more than a year in custody. He still faces charges of terrorism and sedition, but the government says these are likely to be dropped soon.

Mr Nasheed has been a vocal critic of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who has ruled the Indian Ocean archipelago for more than 25 years. He was accused of using a speech in July 2005 to urge the forcible removal of President Gayoom.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed told Reuters news agency that Mr Nasheed was “free to go about his business”. “The charges are still there, but I expect in a month or so that we will review the situation and they will be dropped.”

The Maldives government has been under international pressure over its human rights record and says it is slowly implementing democratic reforms.

The authorities and opposition recently reached an agreement under which a number of opposition detainees have been freed.

Please send appeals:

– welcoming the release from house arrest of writer and politician Mohamed Nasheed, and calling on the government of the Maldives to drop all charges against him in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights;

Appeals to:

His Excellency President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom

The President’s Palace

Maafannu Theemuge

Malé 2002

Republic of Maldives

Fax: 00 960 332 55 00

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