Gangsters abduct, beat pro-opposition Facebook page administrator, and hack page

Gangsters abducted and beat the administrator of a pro-opposition Ranreendhoo Maldives Facebook page last night after the page published pictures of individuals implicated in the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

Reliable sources told Minivan News the Ranreendhoo Madives administrator was accosted at his workplace at 9pm on Wednesday night and escorted to a café at Malé’s Artificial Beach area.

In a closed room, the dozen strong group then beat and interrogated him as to who had posted the pictures online.

The social media posts, which were widely circulated on Facebook and Twitter, named and publicised pictures of known gangsters, some of whom were named in Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security’s investigation into Rilwan’s August 8 disappearance.

Many of those identified in the posts also hold records of murder and organised crime including drug trafficking.

One of the posts included a photograph of gangsters with Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb at a motorcycle rally to mark ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) one year anniversary in power.

According to sources, the “offensive” posts were removed on Wednesday afternoon after the page’s administrators were threatened via text messages. The abduction occurred hours later.

Gangsters forcibly took the Ranreendhoo Maldives administrator’s phone and posted several status updates claiming Rilwan had been disappeared because he had threatened to leak damning documents involving opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Ranreendhoo Maldives has 9,502 likes.

Among the abductors identified by the source were Ahmed Ismail (Ahandhu), Ismail Razeen (Rabarey), Arlif Rauf, and Ahmed Muaz (Gatu Mua).

The four were also reported to have been behind the abduction and interrogation of several young men in June. These abductions were carried out to find out the identities of administrators of Facebook groups advocating secularism and atheism in the Maldives.

Abductors forced victims to hand over their Facebook account details and hijacked a popular Facebook group called ‘Colorless’ which had been set up to facilitate discussion on politics in the aftermath of Nasheed’s ouster in February 2012.

Athena Intelligence and Security’s investigative report named three of the four as possible suspects in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Discounting theories of suicide and voluntary disappearance, the report said Rilwan was likely to have been abducted by gangs motivated by religious extremism.

Home Minister Umar Naseer has also acknowledged involvement of gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Shortly after the report’s release on September 25, Muaz vandalized Minivan News’ security cameras as others left a machete in the building’s door. Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s offices were firebombed and Nasheed’s family residence was vandalised on the same night.

Nasheed in a tweet last night called on the Maldives Police Services to investigate the abduction immediately.

However, a police spokesperson said abduction has not been reported, and declined to comment when asked if the police would initiate an investigation on their own.

Nasheed has recently criticised President Abdulla Yameen’s administration for increasing insecurity in the Maldives and said the government has been taken hostage by gangs and rogue police officers.