New Delhi/Male: Maldives police on Saturday said they had arrested former vice-president Ahmed Adeeb and were bringing him to the capital after he was refused entry to India.
Adeeb, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2016 for allegedly plotting to assassinate the Maldives' then-president Abdulla Yameen, was detained early on Thursday at Tuticorin Port in Tamil Nadu after arriving illegally by tugboat.
"We would like to confirm that Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor of H Saamaraa has been arrested and is being transported to Male under our custody," Maldives police said in a Twitter post.
A port official in Thoothukudi said Adeeb had been sent back to the Maldives late on Friday on a boat escorted by a coast guard vessel. Adeeb is expected to reach the Indian Ocean island chain by Sunday or Monday, an official at the Maldives' foreign ministry said.
The two sources declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. Police officers in Maldives and India's foreign affairs ministry declined to comment.
Adeeb, 37, was also convicted three years ago of corruption and terrorism and faced a total sentence of 33 years. A court in the South Asian archipelago ordered a fresh trial on the same charges this year after cancelling his convictions, citing undue political interference.
A key witness in a money laundering case against Yameen, he was once seen as a future leader of the Maldives. Yameen has pleaded not guilty in the case. Adeeb was freed from house arrest earlier this month.
London-based legal group Guernica 37, which is representing Adeeb, said in a statement on Thursday that he had "sought the protection of India" and initiated the process of claiming political asylum after fleeing Maldives in fear of his life. Guernica 37 did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours on Saturday.
Indian authorities were tipped off about Adeeb's arrival in Tuticorin Port by the company operating the Singapore-flagged tugboat carrying him, port and police officers had said.
A government source in New Delhi said Adeeb "was not permitted to enter India since he was not entering through a designated entry point and did not possess the valid document".