Adeeb returns to Maldives, arrested with quiet help from India

The former Vice President had escaped in a tugboat to seek asylum in India.

Updated - November 28, 2021 10:28 am IST

Published - August 03, 2019 03:21 pm IST - NEW DELHI/THOOTHUKUDI

Former Vice-President of Maldives Ahmed Adeeb inside the boat at Old harbour in Thoothukudi on Thursday.

Former Vice-President of Maldives Ahmed Adeeb inside the boat at Old harbour in Thoothukudi on Thursday.

The dramatic escape of former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb in a tugboat to seek asylum in India came to an end on Saturday with him being taken back to Male by the Maldivian police after his arrest on international waters.

“We would like to confirm that Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor has been arrested and is being transported to Malé under our custody,” the Maldivian police said.

However, sources in the Government of India made it clear that Mr. Adeeb had not been deported by India. They said he was merely refused entry to the country since he tried to enter at a non-sanctioned port in Thoothukudi on Thursday.

The boat with Ahmed  Adeeb in Thoothukudi  on Friday.

The boat with Ahmed Adeeb in Thoothukudi on Friday.


Mr. Adeeb was interrogated by immigration officials but kept on the boat, ‘Virgo 9’, while the Maldivian authorities negotiated with the Indian government for his custody.

“The former Vice President of Maldives was not permitted to enter India since he was not entering through a designated entry point and did not possess valid documents. News reports about his deportation are, therefore, incorrect,” a government source said. 

Mr. Adeeb was freed by courts in Male last month after his conviction on charges of terrorism and corruption was overruled, but was under a travel ban placed on him after the State prosecutor appealed the order in a corruption and money laundering case.

It is understood that the Indian Coast Guard escorted Mr. Adeeb’s tugboat to the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) overnight on Friday and he was then “transferred” to a Maldivian Coast Guard ship, where officials took him into custody on Saturday afternoon.

In doing so, New Delhi sought to assist the Ibu Solih government, which it has strengthened ties with, while not taking a stand in the internal politics of the country. The government also wants to avoid being accused of violating the principle of “non-refoulement” or returning a person seeking asylum back to their country where they face any threat to life or freedom. 

Legal team’s plea

In a statement issued by Mr. Adeeb’s “international legal team” in London on August 2, his lawyers urged India to “consider the application for [asylum] and offer him protection while his claim is under review.” His lawyers alleged that the 37-year-old Mr. Adeeb, originally accused of conspiring to assassinate then President Abdulla Yameen, was being coerced by the Maldivian police to “implicate members of the [Yameen] administration in criminal conduct”.

“India as a nation can rightly be proud of its history in protecting those fleeing to safety and it would be unconscionable to tarnish that reputation now,” said the statement issued by the “Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers”, adding that India’s actions would set a “dangerous precedent.”

Rejecting the plea, however, the government disclaimed any responsibility for Mr. Adeeb’s arrest, and return to Male. “Because he is not in India, news about his detention/arrest in India are false,” the government source repeated.

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