January 29, 2016 / 3:37 PM / 3 years ago

Maldives says sanctions call would be irresponsible

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Britain’s warning of possible sanctions on Maldivian individuals is irresponsible, a senior Maldives government official said on Friday.

Lawyer Amal Clooney (R) sits with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and the former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed (L) in 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain January 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andy Rain/Pool

British Prime Minister David Cameron raised the possibility of sanctions this week after meeting Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives’ first democratically elected president.

Nasheed, who is serving a 13-year sentence on terrorism charges, won permission to travel to Britain for surgery. He was ousted in disputed circumstances in 2012 for ordering the arrest of a judge.

His conviction was condemned by the United Nations, the United States and human rights groups as politically motivated.

The Maldives gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965.

Nasheed called on Monday called for sanctions against Maldivian government figures, while his international lawyer Amal Clooney warned a militant attack on tourists in the Maldives was highly likely.

Aishath Azima Shakoor, minister for legal affairs at the president’s office, said the international pressure was unjustifiable because Nasheed was convicted for a crime under the Maldives’ rule of law.

“We think it is highly irresponsible for somebody to call out for sanctions for not releasing a person observing a sentence for the crime he has committed,” Shakoor told reporters in Colombo.

“We are a country totally depending on tourism. Calling for sanctions on tourism will definitely be of concern to the government,” she said.

Shakoor said she believed Nasheed would return to the Maldives after his medical treatment.

Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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