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Jailed former Maldives president resurfaces in London beside Amal Clooney, David Cameron

London: Former president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, let out of jail last week to seek medical care in Britain, held a meeting with his lawyer Amal Clooney and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday to call for sanctions against Maldivian government figures.

At the same time, another of his lawyers warned a militant attack on tourists in the Maldives was highly likely.

Nasheed, the Maldives' first democratically elected president, was jailed for 13 years on terrorism charges last March after a rapid trial that drew international condemnation. He was granted permission to leave the Indian Ocean island for 30 days to travel to London for treatment for his back.

In his first comments since being released, he indicated he would not return before that deadline and called on the international community to impose sanctions against those responsible for human rights abuses in the Maldives.

"Sanctions imposed can easily be rolled back. But unless they are imposed, President [Abdullah] Yameen will have no incentive to take further action," Nasheed said.

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Nasheed, who in 2009 held a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the threat of climate change to the low-lying Indian Ocean island, was ousted in disputed circumstances in 2012 for ordering the arrest of a judge. The United Nations, the United States and human rights groups have said Yameen's government failed to follow due process and that the case was politically motivated.

Nasheed's lawyer Amal Clooney said only the threat of action led to the former president's release, while Ben Emmerson, another member of Nasheed's legal team, said the Maldives had now become a "hotbed of fundamentalism and terrorism".

He said it was estimated that more than 200 people from the Maldives had joined the militant group Islamic State, the highest number per capita of any state in the world.

"It is only a question of time before the Maldives witnesses an incident comparable to the tragedy that occurred on the beaches of Tunisia last year," he said, referring to an attack on a beach hotel last July claimed by IS, in which 38 tourists, mainly British, were killed.

The Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon said Nasheed had exploited his release and had been "disingenuous at best, and misleading at worst" about his medical condition.

"It is now clear his primary goal was to court publicity in the United Kingdom. This is not medical leave, but media leave," she said in a statement.

Nasheed said his medical condition was serious and he had suffered from a chronic back problem since being tortured in his 20s.

He said the date of his return was a "fluid situation" and suggested he might seek to exert influence from India or Sri Lanka or could return to jail.

"I will definitely go to the Maldives. But only the question is how and when," he said.

Reuters

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