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UPDATE: Westminster graduate released Saturday after arrest in Maldives

Shauna Aminath, center, a former Westminster College student in Fulton, participates in a recent demonstration calling for a return to democracy in the Republic of Maldives.

Shauna Aminath, center, a former Westminster College student in Fulton, participates in a recent demonstration calling for a return to democracy in the Republic of Maldives.

A former Westminster College student who was arrested Friday in the Republic of Maldives after a political demonstration was released Saturday after appearing in court and promising not to participate in any more demonstrations for the next 21 days.

Dr. Barney Forsythe, Westminster president, said Shauna Aminath, who is a 2008 graduate of Westminster College, was arrested in her home country of the Republic of Maldives, an island nation located off the tip of India, “while attending a peaceful demonstration.”

She was taken to Dhoonidhoo detention island where she was held in police custody.

Forsythe said he received news Saturday that Aminath was released.

On Friday John Langton, professor of political science at Westminster, said he feared for Aminath’s safety and her life. He issued a plea to President Obama to demand her immediate release from prison and to grant her political asylum in the United States, saying she was the victim of political repression.

“Shauna was a political science major at Westminster and I was her advisor. I know her well. She was a leader of foreign students when she attended Westminster. She is a nonviolent advocate of democracy and I am sure she was arrested because she was involved in a demonstration asking for a return to democracy after a military coup in the Maldives,” Langton said Friday.

Langton said he received emailed photos of her demonstrating recently for a return to democracy.

“I emailed back to her to be cautious when dealing with the current government that overthrew the elected government,” Langton said.

Langton said the Maldivian Democratic Party was deeply concerned about her safety because of the documented abuses of other detainees held in police custody since the coup d’etat on Feb. 7.

On that date former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned in the face of political hostility from the former regime that his election overturned.

Aminath is president of the Maldivian Democratic Party Youth Wing and policy secretary.

“I am greatly relieved,” Forsythe said Saturday, “that she has been released in what appears to be a peaceful resolution to her plight. We are so thankful to receive this wonderful news this morning and wish her well in the days ahead.”

Previous coverage:

FULTON, Mo. — A Westminster College political science professor has asked President Obama to demand the release of a jailed former Fulton college student.

John Langton, professor of political science at Westminster, said Shauna Aminath, who graduated from Westminster in 2008, has been arrested and jailed in the Republic of Maldives, an island nation located off the tip of India.

“Shauna was a political science major at Westminster, and I was her adviser. I know her well. She was a leader of foreign students when she attended Westminster. She is a nonviolent advocate of democracy, and I am sure she was arrested because she was involved in a demonstration asking for a return to democracy after a military coup in the Maldives,” Langdon said.

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