Missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla has been seen on CCTV footage from the Hulhumalé ferry terminal in Malé at 12:45am on August 8.
He is seen wearing a black shirt, black trousers and carrying a black backpack. He is wearing while soled Crocs shoes. He is 28-years-old, of medium build, around 5ft 10 inches tall, with a short beard.
Footage shows him buying a ticket from the counter, going into the bathroom, then coming out and handing his ticket to a ferry terminal staff and walking to the waiting area.
Rilwan lived by himself in Hulhumalé at the time of his disappearance. Today is the ninth day since he was last seen.
The CCTV footage contradicts an earlier statement by a friend of Rilwan who claimed to have seen him wearing a turquoise shirt late on the night of August 7.
Family, friends, and Minivan News were unable to identify Rilwan when they first viewed the footage on Saturday, as they were looking for a man in a turquoise shirt.
Minivan News apologises for the mistake.
It now appears Rilwan boarded the one o’clock ferry. The new information corroborates with earlier evidence, including a tweet from his account @moyameeha at 1:02am in which he reported seeing local movie star Yoosuf Shafeeu on the ferry.
A witness on Thursday also told Minivan News and the Maldives Police Services that he had sat next to Rilwan on the early morning ferry on August 8.
Based on eyewitness accounts, the police released a statement on Thursday stating Rilwan was wearing a turquoise shirt and was last seen in the early morning on the Malé – Hulhumalé ferry.
After the incorrect statement by family members and Minivan News, the police subsequently told local media they were unsure if Rilwan had boarded the ferry. The police told Minivan News the search is ongoing.
Before Rilwan went into the ferry terminal, he parked his motorbike near the carnival grounds in Malé. The motorbike is still parked at the same location.
Rilwan’s final Viber message was sent at 1:42 am.
A group of 30 people conducted a land search of Hulhumalé on Saturday, but found no sign of Rilwan. During the search, a member of Rilwan’s family has reported receiving an call from an unlisted number warning him to stop the search and go home.
The International Federation of Journalists together with its affiliate the Maldives Journalists Association has called on the government to speed up investigation to clarify of whereabouts of Rilwan.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile put out a statement last night expressing concern with the police investigation and efforts to locate Rilwan, which it contended were “inadequate”.
The main opposition party noted that Rilwan disappeared at a time when journalists were facing intimidation and receiving death threats.
The MDP referred to the party bringing to the government’s attention the abduction of alleged advocates of secularism by a vigilante group in June.
“However, we note with regret that the government has taken no action concerning [the abductions],” the statement read. The party also referred to previous threats against journalists and the arson attack against the opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV.
At the time, the party claimed to have “received information that some religious extremists have kidnapped young people claiming they had committed irreligious acts.”
Rilwan, also known as moyameehaa by his followers on Twitter, is a softly spoken yet passionate advocate of democracy and free speech. He writes on many subjects, including religion, politics, and the environment.
He had reported some online intimidation, as well as instances of being followed from work in recent months, but he had not reported having received any threats in days prior to his disappearance.
After studying journalism in India, Rilwan worked for both the Human Rights Commission of Maldives and local newspaper Miadhu before joining Minivan News last December.
Police have also confirmed that immigration records show he has not left the country, while there is no evidence to suggest that he returned to his apartment.
Anyone with further information call the Police Hotline 332 2111, or Serious and Organised Crime Department at 9911099. Alternatively, Rilwan’s family can be contacted on 775 4566 or 977 3250.