Petition urges British authorities to deport ex-Maldivian tourism minister Ali Waheed

Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed speaks to press outside Maldives Police Service headquarters on July 19, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

A petition is being readied for submission to the UK Parliament calling on British authorities to arrest former Maldivian Tourism Minister Ali Waheed and deport him from the UK.

The petition, posted by someone by the name of Hassan Kurusee on this Sunday, has gathered over 90 signatures.

Ali Waheed was dismissed as Tourism Minister on July 9, 2020, after allegations that he sexually assaulted and harassed multiple female employees at the Tourism Ministry was brought to the attention of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. He was initially asked to voluntarily resign but was dismissed after he refused.

He has been pressed with seven charges; attempted rape, inflicting a sexual, indecent exposure, sexual assault, attempt to cause sexual assault, and two counts of unlawful sexual contact.

He initially had a travel ban order against him, but the Criminal Court temporarily released his passport and allowed him to travel overseas for medical treatment on February 9, despite requests by the Prosecutor General's Office not to release his passport and grant him temporary travel papers instead.

He promptly left for the UK, where he had previously lived in self-exile during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration.

The petition says Ali Waheed has a history of sexual harassment allegations, and calls on the British government for his immediate arrest and deportation.

Ali Waheed’ failed to return to Maldives despite the fact that the four-month period granted by the court for his travel overseas expired last June.

Criminal Court granted Ali Waheed’s motion to allow him to attend his hearings remotely, despite the objections of the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The decision was appealed by the Prosecutor General’s Office with the High Court, which rejected the case, citing appeal proceedings cannot be conducted in Ali Waheed’s absence.

Prosecutor General’s Office subsequently filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which has summoned Ali Waheed to a hearing in the case on August 2.

Prosecutor General’s Office also unsuccessfully sought a second travel ban order against Ali Waheed with the Criminal Court, to prevent him from leaving the UK.