Additional reporting by Ahmed Naish
Police have arrested former head of police intelligence, Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed, following his contribution to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s report (Dhivehi) into the controversial transfer of power on February 7.
Reports surfaced yesterday that police officers who had cooperated with the report were being rounded up and detained, and their houses searched. A group of protesters had gathered outside police headquarters this morning.
Police initially denied the allegations of a “witch hunt” and issued a statement accusing the media of “circulating baseless and false reports”. However court warrants for the arrest of Hameed and Staff Sergeant Ahmed Naseer were subsequently leaked.
Hameed was taken into custody this morning and transferred to the detention centre on Dhoonidhoo, ahead of a court hearing this afternoon. Naseer and a third, lower-ranking officer are also believed to be in Dhoonidhoo.
During the court hearing the Criminal Court extended Hameed’s detention to five days. The Chief Superintendent was led out the back door of the court away from the crowds of MDP protesters who had gathered outside. Riot police pushed the crowds back to the STO Trading centre.
The Criminal Court arrest warrant stated that Hameed is accused of “misusing” or leaking information acquired through his position for “the political gain of a particular group” and participating in the compilation of the “misleading” Ameen-Aslam report, which undermines “the public’s respect for the security services.”
It justified his detention on the grounds that Hameed might influence witnesses and attempt to get rid of evidence as “others are suspected of involvement in the case.”
The evidence submitted to obtain the court warrant stated that a draft of the report with recommended changes was found in Hameed’s gmail account, and messages were found that suggested Hameed was consulted prior to the release of the report.
The family of Chief Superintendent Hameed expressed concern over his detention and noted that he was widely respected in the force as “a man of principle”. He has been in the service for over 17 years and has a masters in policing, intelligence and counter-terrorism.
Following the raid and extrajudicial dismantling of the MDP’s protest site at Usfasgandu on May 29, Hameed tweeted: ” Called a ‘baaghee’ [traitor] on the road twice today. Rightly so when our own actions are unjustifiable and thuggery like!”
Police issued a statement this afternoon confirming that Hameed had been arrested on charges of leaking “important information collected by the Maldives Police Services intelligence related to national security” as well as providing “untrue and false information” intended to benefit a specific [political] party, which could pose a threat to national security and create “divisions between the police and the public.” Hameed’s actions were in violation of the Police Act, the statement insisted.