Yameen Rasheed, 29, was found with 16 stab wounds on his neck and chest in the stairwell of his apartment building, according to media reports.
Rasheed, who called himself a “disobedient writer” on Twitter, was known for his blog, The Daily Panic, and Twitter posts under the handle @yaamyn, where he often posted satire that was critical of the government.
On his blog, Rasheed would post weekly roundups, each titled “This Week in Maldives,” where he would discuss and satirise news stories in the Maldives. His last post is dated April 4.
Reports say that a conservative strain of Islam had spread in recent years in the Maldives.
Rasheed told the New York Times earlier this year that bloggers like himself and Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, a journalist who was abducted in 2014, were being targeted by radicalised gangs in the Maldives. Rasheed was an active coordinator in a campaign to find Abdulla and has been hailed as a vocal human rights defender.
The blogger had reportedly been receiving death threats prior to the killing. Last year, he said on Twitter that he had formally reported threats to the police, but they had not yet responded.
In a blog post on Sunday, Amnesty International said Rasheed’s death “an attack on freedom of expression” and called for an investigation into the killing to “bring those responsible to justice.”
“This shocking killing of Yameen Rasheed not only shows contempt for human life, but it is also a direct attack on the human right to freedom of expression,” said Olof Blomqvist, Amnesty International’s Maldives Researcher.
Notable international figures and entities mourned Rasheed’s death.
Former president and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed tweeted on Sunday that “A brave voice, brutally silenced.” He called for “an open investigation with international participation can provide justice for @yaamyn.”A brave voice, brutally silenced. Only an impartial & open investigation with international participation can provide justice for @yaamyn.
— Mohamed Nasheed (@MohamedNasheed) April 23, 2017
Ibrahim Muaz Ali, a spokesman for President Abdulla Yameen, posted on Twitter that “The Government strongly condemns the brutal inhumanely[sic] attack on a youth.”
US Ambassador to the Maldives Atul Keshap offered his condolences to the blogger’s friends and family.
Heartfelt condolences to family & friends of @yaamyn, who passionately believed in #FreedomOfSpeech and #HumanRights for ALL in #Maldives pic.twitter.com/8JxXwZiQ2e
— Atul Keshap (@USAmbKeshap) April 23, 2017
James Dauris, the UK ambassador to the Maldives, called Rasheed “a passionate champion of #freespeech and #humanrights.”
We share so many Maldivians’ sense of loss after murder of Yameen Rasheed on 22/04. A passionate champion of #freespeech and #humanrights. pic.twitter.com/ME53lPcm81
— James Dauris (@JamesDauris) April 23, 2017