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Lawyers for the jailed ex-president of the Maldives say the government has reneged on an agreement to allow him to travel to the United Kingdom for spinal surgery.
The leaders of the island nation announced this weekend that they were approving the medical trip to the United Kingdom for Mohamed Nasheed — just days after his legal team, including Amal Clooney, went to Washington to push for sanctions.
But the deal is now up in the air.
Nasheed's reps said Sunday that the regime is insisting that one of his relatives stay behind in the Maldives and sign a document that would make them criminally liable if he does not return within 30 days.
"Changing the terms of the deal at the last moment — let alone by insisting on holding a family member of his hostage until he returns — is totally unacceptable," said Jared Genser, founder of Freedom Now and counsel to Nasheed.
The Maldives Foreign Ministry, which had trumpeted its approval of the trip on Twitter, could not be reached for immediate comment and did not release any statements.
Starting in late 2008, Nasheed served three years as president after the first democratic elections in the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago. Soon after leaving office, in what he claims was a gunpoint coup, he was charged with abduction for ordering the arrest of a judge while he was in office.
His trial and 13-year sentence were condemned by the United Nations as a "mockery."
During a trip to Washington last week, Genser and Clooney, the wife of activist actor-director George Clooney, pushed the Obama administration to impose travel bans and asset freezes on regime officials responsible for keeping Nasheed locked up.
She told NBC News that "democracy is dead" in the Maldives and that political repression, abuse of women, and Islamic jihadism are on the rise.