Thayyib Shaheem, a prominent opposition social media activist, is under arrest on suspicion of inciting fear and panic about the H1N1 swine flu virus and sowing discord among the public with false information on social media.
He was arrested around 11:50pm on Thursday from the Shabnam café in Malé. The criminal court remanded the 42-year-old to police custody for eight days on Friday.
According to his arrest form, Thayyib’s charges include raising a false alarm, a class one misdemeanour that is defined in the penal code as providing false information either about an imminent violent offence or “a situation that is serious to human life”.
The second charge is disorderly conduct under section 615 of the penal code, which is defined as “creating a hazardous, physically offensive or seriously alarming condition by an act that serves no legitimate purpose.”
The first offence carries a maximum jail term of one year and the second a maximum of three months.
Thayyib was formerly the news editor of the state broadcaster under former President Mohamed Nasheed. He has more than 21,000 followers on Twitter and routinely levels serious allegations against President Abdulla Yameen, ruling party lawmakers, and senior state officials.
Thayyib’s arrest came less than two hours after he posted on Twitter audio clips of MP Ahmed Nihan telling a group of people that the constitution was amended to facilitate the sale of the island of Himithi in Faafu atoll to the Saudi deputy crown prince.
The constitution previously prohibited foreign ownership of Maldivian land, but controversial amendments were brought in July 2015 to authorise foreign freeholds if an investment exceeds US$1 billion.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent