President grants clemency to self-exiled ‘Sandhaanu’ Luthfy

President Mohamed Nasheed has granted clemency to Ibrahim Moosa ‘Sandhaanu’ Luthfy, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for writing against the former government.

Luthfy escaped imprisonment by the former government when he was taken to Sri Lanka for medical treatment in May 2005. He undertook self-exile in Switzerland where he was supported by the United Nations and the Swiss government.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said Luthfy was a man who was “on the front line” when the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) started its work “to reform the government.”

Zuhair said that  according to the new constitution, “freedom of expression is not illegal.”

”In the constitution people have freedom of expression,” he said, ”so [Luthfy] has committed no crime under the law and so should not be serving a punishment.”

Speaking from Switzerland, Luthfy told Minivan News the charges against him by the former government were “unjust and made by force.”

Luthfy said he had been charged for “misleading the people and defaming a former government cabinet minister.”

”At first we started dropping papers on the ground to let people know about the condition of human rights and the judicial system in the Maldives,” Luthfy said.

“Then the internet was invented, and we started our work as an online, unregistered magazine based in Malaysia called ‘Sandhaanu’.”

Luthfy claimed the former government put him under life imprisonment “because they had no other way to stop us from working.”

”They tried to catch us in many ways, including sending CID agents to Malaysia, but they could not,” he said.

”Then during the time of the September 11 attack, the former president [Maumoon Abdul Gayoom] gave out an international red notice that we were terrorists.”

He said he was then caught and brought to the Maldives.

”Criminal court judge Abdulla Areef [now a judge at supreme court] gave the verdict without giving me the chance to use a defense lawyer or to present any witnesses to defend myself,” he said.

Luthfy claimed that the serious injuries he received while in prison led to international journalism organisations pressuring the former government to take him out of jail for medical treatment.

”They brought me to Male’ where doctors said I needed to go abroad for treatment, so the former government took me to Sri Lanka along with two guards,” he said. ”The doctor at the Sri Lankan hospital gave me two options: either stay in the hospital for seven days for observation or to come back after seven days, and said I preferred to come back after seven days.”

He stayed in a hotel with the two guard, but one morning he managed to escape.

”One day after fajr prayers when I came out of my room, the two guards were sleeping so I ran away,” he said.

”I sought for help from the United Nations and other organisations via e-mail, and meanwhile sent messages to the former government saying that I would let people know about how people were being tortured in the cells if any international notice was put out to find me.”

He claimed the former government tried to find him, assisted by the Sri Lankan police, but were unsuccessful.

The United Nations protected him in Sri Lanka for six months before sending him to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Switzerland.

”I have been here for seven years but will be returning to the Maldives very soon,” he said.

Spokesman for the former President, Mohamed Hussein ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, said as far as he was concerned Luthfy was “not a person”, “a nobody [who will] remain so” and he would not drop his reputation to the same level as Luthfy by commenting on the matter.

Furthermore, Mundhu said that news outlets reporting on “these kinds of unprofessional people” also risked being categorised as unprofessional.

“All you achieve in giving this clown space in the media is giving him unwarranted attention and importance. I do not wish to have any such part in such an exercise. Scum will always remain scum,” he said.

“If you want people to believe that Minivan [News] is anything but Anni’s mouthpiece, it’s advisable to stay clear of such [an] exercise to give cosmetic makeovers to people like Luthfy.”

He noted that MDP Chairperson Mariya Didi was a State Attorney at the former Attorney General’s office at the time of Luthfy’s  conviction.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and DRP MP and former cabinet minister Abdulla Mausoom failed to respond to Minivan News at time of press.


15 thoughts on “President grants clemency to self-exiled ‘Sandhaanu’ Luthfy”

  1. I would like to know what DRP members in Parliament who speak so much for human rights and justice say about this. Especially on the fact that "judge Abdulla Areef [now a judge at supreme court]" is still holding such a high position in the Maldives after his well known injustice done to people who just spoke out.

    Have any of these MPs ever spoke out against this judge or brought up this in the Parliament? Or is their voices and concerns pointed out only when it benefits their Party and not people belonging to other parties or the country?

    Right now DRP people are jumping around speaking out freely without having to secretly throw papers in the streets or send secret magazines covertly to avoid being sentenced to life without being given any lawyer, etc.

    If a DRP member talks fairly, then it would be right to admit that yes during Maummoon time, there was no such freedom in Maldives which we see today. Yes anyone who even wrote (not just speak), would be behind bars if the government knew who it was. ...If any DRP member of Parliament can admit this and go against judges like Abdulla Areef, then I could believe that he or she really cares about the best of all Maldivians, not just any party. But really, I do not think any of them has ever made a big fuss about these judges. Do advise me if I am wrong since I ofcourse do not watch the Parliament everyday. But from the type of comments I have read and heard, I am just presuming I am right.

    Also those who support DRP should atleast ask their MPs to be honest and go against evil, be it from their side or the other. I would speak out against MDP members if they were trying to be smart and just put their party before justice and honesty towards the local people. I am pretty sure MDP will not do well in next coming elections, just as DRP would not since both sides are so busy trying to be spiteful always. Anytime the government tries to bring some good legislation also, DRP MPs don't want it to succeed purely because of not wanting an MDP led government to be "seen" successful.
    MDP members should also give credit to any DRP member who votes for something which benefits the country and not try and make it as an MDP success only.

    Anyway, without going off topic. I would really love to know which DRP MP is ready to put the people of Maldives first before the opinion and good outlook of his party politicians who were in the previous Government. Lets be clean cause if anyone is just polite and honest when he speaks to the people, then people will support him or her for these qualities. Do not need to be a great speaker with smart comments to get votes. Honesty is the best from start to the end.

  2. mr. mundhu is really proving himself. what a piece of work he is...i really admire his love for the country. after all, why else would he be staying here? a guy of this caliber could surely get a very highly paid post in a country like north korea or cuba.

  3. Why this government took almost 18 months to pardon this heavily victimized guy? Shouldnt it be a priority to pardon and free such innocent people at the earliest?

  4. If Luthfy is a scumbag for speaking out against the government of the day, then Mundhu is more scum than anyone could ever stuff in a bag.

    There is no word to describe these people who do not have the slightest of shame to go flaunting their hypocritical mouth. They have no shame in shouting all sorts of nasty things at the president when only a couple of years ago they threatened, incarcerated and tortured people for wishpering even ordinary critisism of their government. They traumatised families beyond repair for not being on their side let alone saying anything against them. And now look who is talking... Words will not describe the sort of people who are like Mundhu.

  5. Luthfy deserves praise and respect from all freedom loving Maldivians. He made great sacrifices and the freedom we enjoy today are a result of some of that.

    Those who were responsible for the inhuman treatment of Luthfy should be brought to justice. After all, the UNHCR doesn't look after any idiot. The fact that he was given protection clearly means he was under great threat from the former regime of dictator Gayyoom.

  6. Mundhu, oh Mundhu, you of all people should know not to speak like that to the press.
    And calling another humanbeing scum? while glorifying a dictator? really shows your values.

  7. Luthfy is a human, therefore, he is a person. As his name is Luthfy, he is not a "nobody", he is Luthfy who is SOMEBODY. Mundhu clearly has very weak observational skills.

  8. Luthfee is a real hero. Gayoom and his spokesperson is nothing but farts. They tortured these innocent people during their reign. Now we have kept gayoom and all his cronies out of our coffers. They will remain farts and as opposition for the rest of their lives.

  9. I am concerned for the DRP's PR image. This "Mundhu" character made the most misguided comments and threw around barbs at opposition parties without a damn about the consequences during the 2008 presidential elections as well.

    It is however indicative of the DRP's support base that he always made a bigger impact on party members rather than Athif Shakoor's more nuanced and politically correct mode of speech. Ah go figure!

  10. If Minivan news is Anni's mouthpiece then Mundhu is Gayoom's poodle. I think the only way Minivan news stands to lose credibility is by asking an idiot like Mundhu for an opinion. Mundhu's comments are rife with ignorance and makes a mockery of the whole institution of free speech. It is fact that Gayoom did pass a life sentence on Luthfy for publishing an internet newspapers.(No different from what I'm doing now). We as a nation will never get out of the shadows of authoritarianism if we ignore the stories of people like Luthfy.

  11. As a firm MDP supporter, I would like to make this request to Minivannews: please get quotes from Mundhu on every single article. even if it is about nothing related to Mundhu, let the man pontificate and share his words of wisdom. let it all hang out. i can't think of any better way for DRP to look awful in front of the good dhivehi public.

  12. This article is getting people heated from the looks of it, yet most people here are contradicting themsleves. Especially Mr Cordoba who mentioned that Mundhu's comments were rife with ignorance and makes a mockery of free speech, I dont think he took more than 2 seconds to think about what he just blurted out, as thats the reason why Luthfy got into trouble in the first instance. In my opinion Mundhu isnt a walking time bomb that Luthfy defenitely is, from what I remember Luthfy was all over the place back then, just another person with a big mouth, no substance such as our friend Mr.Cordoba.

  13. Those who dared to speak out against the injustices of the Maumoon's regime were marked as terrorists, and brutalized.

    They think we have forgotten the cruelty of the DRP regime when they go around squawking lies about the MDP, trying to gain leadership of the country.

    Never again. We have wrenched ourselves from the cruel claws of teh DRP; and we will never let them terrorize another Maldivian again.



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