Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed has spoken to the media on how he was able to leave the Maldives amid sexual harrassment allegations.
Seven charges were raised in November 2020 against the former tourism minister, who was dismissed from his post over sexual harassment allegations. The charges raised against Ali Waheed include inflicting sexual injury, attempted rape, indecent exposure, sexual assault, attempt to cause sexual assault and two counts of unlawful sexual conduct.
While the Criminal Court imposed a travel ban against Ali in July 2020, the court earlier this year lifted the ban after doctors confirmed that Ali Waheed had to travel abroad to seek medical treatment. Ali then left the country in February and has not returned since.
Speaking to the media in a virtual press conference on Monday, Ali Waheed said he wished to depart from the Maldives in October 2020. He did not use any influence to compel the courts, judges or the doctor to allow him to leave, said Ali Waheed.
Ali Waheed said he left the country despite charges being raised against him as the Prosecutor General did not have any objection to it. The Prosecutor General first requested him to travel on a travel document, to which he objected, said Ali. He also denied he left the country before the court issued the order lifting the travel ban. This can be confirmed through courtroom recordings, said the former minister.
Ali said he received a phone call on the night he departed from the Maldives. He was asked to immediately leave the country, and was told that he would be detained the next day if he did not leave the country on the same night. As his departure time was late, he waited at the airport's VIP lounge, and this can be seen on CCTV footage of the lounge, said Ali.
Ali was arrested by UK police on August 25, an hour after he posted on Twitter that he would be holding a press conference later the same night. He remained in detention for 16 days and was released on September 9.
Speaking on his arrest, Ali said the days he spent in prison were hard and challenging days. He said that 'they' could arrest him any time, and he does not see any reason to remain 'silent'.
In Monday's press conference, Ali denied the allegations against him and insisted that he was framed for political reasons.