Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed has been given a political refugee status by Britain, where he had gone on for a surgery in January, Nasheed's lawyer Hasan Latheef said on Monday. However, the British government has not yet issued a confirmation regarding this.
Nasheed is a human rights campaigner and was the first democratically elected president of the Maldives. He was detained in 2012 for ordering the arrest of a judge. He resigned a few months later after there was a military mutiny and protests against him, according to the BBC. He was also handed a 13-year sentence in a speedy trial in relation to the arrest of the judge.
Later, Nasheed was granted permission to travel to the U.K. for a spinal cord surgery. He was supposed to continue serving his sentence after returning to the Maldives. However, with the political refugee status being granted to Nasheed, he can stay on in the U.K.
"President Yameen has jailed every opposition leader and cracked down on anyone who dares to oppose or criticise him. In the past year, freedom of the press, expression and assembly have all been lost. Given the slide towards authoritarianism in the Maldives, myself and other opposition politicians feel we have no choice but to work in exile - for now," a statement from Nasheed's office said on Monday, according to Deutsche Welle.
"The Government of Maldives is concerned about the media reports of President Nasheed seeking political asylum in the United Kingdom, while visiting the UK on 'medical leave' from a 13-year prison sentence imposed following conviction for having ordered the abduction of a Criminal Court judge," a statement from the Maldives foreign ministry said.
The government also said that if the report is confirmed, it is "disappointed" with the U.K. for "being part of this charade."