The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) released a statement yesterday threatening legal action against “those who make false claims about the Maldivian military, issue reports, and act in ways that causes loss of public confidence in this institution.”
The MNDF statement follows the publication of a detailed investigative report by former ministers in the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government: Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam and National Security Advisor Ameen Faisal (also former Defence Minister).
The Ameen-Aslam report alleged that military intelligence had learned of the then-opposition’s plan to topple the government by soliciting “about 500 police officers to protest at the Republic Square” and highlights “unlawful and criminal activity” of mutinying police officers in the events leading up to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation “under duress” on February 7.
The MNDF statement strongly condemned and expressed concern with “those of a particular political ideology making false claims and issuing reports about the Maldivian military, inciting hatred among the beloved Maldivian people toward the military and causing loss of public confidence [in the institution].”
The military “would not hesitate to take necessary action within the bounds of law against any danger to national security,” the statement added.
President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza told Minivan News yesterday that the inclusion in the Ameen-Aslam report of the names of police and MNDF officers accused of involvement in the alleged coup was an “act of terrorism”.
“The report is illegal and an act of terrorism. They can’t reveal the names of officers of the security forces like that and threaten their families,” he said.
Asked if the government intended to take action against either the MDP or the co-authors of the report, Abbas said “the security services will decide on the matter.”
Speaking at a press conference this morning, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim called on MNDF officers named in the report to sue for defamation.
Nazim said the officers had the right to clear their names and protect the dignity and reputation of their families, revealing that “internal discussions” were ongoing on the issue.
“The imaginary report released recently had names of some people in it,” he said. “I have told them to go to court and challenge it.”
He added that he would make a decision whether to sue the co-authors for defamation himself after due consideration.
Nazim was named in the report as “a coup leader” tasked with recruiting MNDF senior and middle-ranking officers to the cause of toppling Nasheed’s government.
The defence ministry would provide “any assistance we can” to the officers who intend to file defamation cases, Nazim said. Defamation was decriminalised in 2009 and made a civil offence with Rf5,000 (US$324) as compensation.
The MNDF statement meanwhile contended that the report was politically-motivated, contained baseless claims and was “irresponsible” in identifying individual officers accused of planning the coup.
The report’s naming of individuals in the military “achieves nothing apart from sullying the good name, reputation, honour and dignity of innocent people,” the statement read.
Ameen Faisal and Mohamed Aslam were unavailable for comment at time of press.