Leaked photo allegedly depicts Deputy Transport Minister in Colombo casino

Local media outlet Channel News Maldives (CNM) has published a leaked photograph circulating on social media apparently showing Deputy Minister of Transport Ibrahim Nazim in a casino.

The report claimed that the photograph was taken in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The television behind the individual alleged to be Nazim in its bottom corner says “Welcome to Bellagio”, a Colombo casino.

CNM also reported that police were currently verifying the matter.

However, a police spokesperson disputed the claim stating that police had not formally “received any reports regarding such a case”.  He also refused to comment on CNM’s allegation that police were trying to verify the authenticity of the photograph.

The contentious photo believed to be of former PPM activist, Deputy Minister of Transport Ibrahim Nazim (far right)

MvYouth, an online newspaper affiliated with the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – Nazim’s former party prior to his defection to Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party – reported that the photograph had been taken while Nazim was on a campaign trip to Colombo with the JP.

Nazim was considered a senior PPM activist who backed the party’s ousted Deputy Leader Umar Naseer during the party’s presidential primaries, but subsequently gave his full support to Abdulla Yameen after he defeated Naseer in the election.

Following Umar Naseer’s announcement of his support for Gasim, Nazim resigned from his position as PPM’s Youth Wing leader and signed up with the JP, backing Gasim’s candidacy.

The photograph was leaked less than a week after the JP launched its “Religion and Nationalism Policy”, pledging that a future government under Gasim Ibrahim would strengthen Islamic faith and nationalism, particularly among young people.

Minivan News was unable to get a comment from Nazim as his phone was switched off at time of press.

The Jumhoree Party has meanwhile dismissed the leaked photograph as a “fake” claiming that it was PPM “propaganda”.

Speaking to Minivan News, JP Spokesperson Moosa Rameez claimed that “in this technological world, editing a photo is very simple.”

“You will have seen a man wearing his underwear outside flying on TV who is called Superman. You will have seen a man releasing web from his wrists called Spiderman. See all these are made and they are videos. We are talking about a still photograph here. How simple would it be to edit one?” Rameez told Minivan News.

Rameez said he believed the PPM was behind the whole scandal and was attempting to take revenge after Nazim left the party to support the Jumhoree Alliance.

“When a man’s wife whom he loves gets a divorce and leaves him, he will start talking thinks bad about her. Likewise, that young boy Jameel (PPM presidential candidate Yameen’s running mate, Dr Mohamed Jameel) cannot digest the decision. Why else would they try to defame someone who worked with them before?” he said.

Rameez alleged the PPM had become “desperate” after realising that Gasim and former President Nasheed were the only two candidates who had any chance of winning the upcoming elections.

“I am sure Yameen and Jameel are behind this. This is part of their propaganda,” he alleged.