The search for missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla continued without success today, eight days after his last sighting.
“We are very grateful to all those involved in the search,” said Rilwan’s sister Fathimath Shehenaz.
“We are very worried. We want him home safe. We will not give up,” she added.
A team of around 30 friends and family members focused efforts on the more isolated areas of Rilwan’s island of residence Hulhumalé today, after earlier reports had suggested he was aboard the 1:30am ferry from Malé on August 8.
However, as the group continued its own investigations into Rilwan’s last known location, CCTV footage – seen by Minivan News – does not show Rilwan entering the Malé terminal between midnight and 3am.
Additionally, information from a source within Ooredoo traces Rilwan’s last mobile data usage to 2:36am somewhere in the Henveiru area of Malé. A second source has corroborated the time of the signal.
During today’s 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.
Chief Inspector Abdulla Sathee met with the volunteers today, pledging the police’s cooperation with all those concerned in ensuring Rilwan is found.
While Rilwan’s most recent movements remain a mystery, it is known that he left his motorbike by the carnival grounds some time after leaving his friends at around 12:45am.
One of his final tweets, at 1:03am, suggested sighting local actor Yoosuf Shafeeu (Yooppe) at the ferry terminal, while his final viber message was sent at 1:42am.
Minivan News urges the public contribute any relevant information – in particular CCTV footage from the Henveiru area.
We would also like to express gratitude to local media for their coverage of Rilwan’s case, and request they continue to dedicate attention to his disappearance until he is found.
Rilwan had recently talked to friends and colleagues of taking some time out in the islands, while it is not uncommon for him to periodically drop out of contact – normally for no more than three days.
“Rilwan’s continued absence is a source of great concern for friends and family alike. He is sorely missed at home, in the office, and online,” said Minivan News Managing Editor Daniel Bosley.
“The well documented issues with the intimidation of journalists and human rights activists in the Maldives mean it is vitally important for police to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation in order to allay rampant speculation.”
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, though he had received no threats in days prior to his disappearance.
After studying journalism in India, Rilwan worked for both the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) and local newspaper Miadhu before joining Minivan News last December.
He was last seen wearing black trousers and a turquoise shirt. He is 28-years-old, of medium build, around 5ft 10 inches tall, with a short beard.
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.