Statement calls into question the arrest of vice-president Ahmed Adeeb, who is accused along with three soldiers of plot to assassinate leader

The Maldives' vice-president, Ahmed Adeeb, who is under arrest over what the government says was a plot to kill the president.
The Maldives’ vice-president, Ahmed Adeeb, who is under arrest over what the government says was a plot to kill the president. Photograph: Ali Naseer/AP

The FBI has said it found no evidence an explosion on board the Maldivian president’s boat was caused by a bomb – calling into question allegations that have led to the arrest of the country’s vice-president.

Ahmed Adeeb is accused by the Maldivian government of plotting to assassinate President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

The explosion took place on 28 September as Gayoom returned to the capital from the airport, which is on a separate island. Gayoom escaped unhurt but his wife, an aide and a bodyguard were injured.

Adeeb and three soldiers were later arrested, with officials claiming foreign intelligence agencies had deemed the explosion an assassination attempt.

But the FBI said in a statement on Saturday that the debris it was asked to investigate turned out to be boat parts and not bomb remnants.

The FBI said “submitted specimens were determined to be components from the boat and not the components of an improvised explosive device”.

“Based on the FBI’s analysis which included forensic analysis of the scene, analysis of the items recovered from the scene, and chemical testing there is no conclusive evidence to attribute the explosion on the boat to an IED.”

Gayoom appealed for calm after Adeeb’s arrest on 24 October escalated the country’s political crisis. The dramatic development marked the latest in a series of political shakedowns and power struggles in the Maldives that have seized the fragile young democracy since it held its first elections in 2008 after 30 years of autocracy under Gayoom’s half-brother.

Adeeb’s arrest was followed by protests and arrests. A former defence minister and the first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, are also behind bars, and Gayoom’s government has been criticised over sweeping laws it says are aimed at catching Islamist terrorists, but which the opposition says could be used to crack down on dissent.

With Associated Press