The Maldives' best-known blogger, who nearly died in an attack outside his home last month, has blamed resurgent Islamists for the assault and fled the country.
Ismail Rasheed, known locally as the blogger Hilath, was on his way home from prayers on the evening of June 4 when three men grabbed him from behind and one of them stabbed him in the throat.
The 37-year-old former journalist with leading daily Haveeru, who had upset the Indian Ocean nation's increasingly influential religious hardliners, slumped in a pool of blood outside his front door in the capital Male.
Rushed to hospital, he remained in intensive care for days where doctors brought him back from the brink.
"I was attacked because I advocate secularism. The Islamists want Maldives to remain a 100-percent Islamic country," he told AFP.
The free-speech advocate has been literally silenced. He was unable to talk in person or over the telephone because doctors have advised him not to speak while his throat heals.
Fearful for his future safety, Rasheed has since fled the country and is considering seeking political asylum.
"The Maldives is not safe for me anymore," he said, declining to disclose his present whereabouts.
The idea of his blog was "to criticise Islamic extremists and Gayoom," he said referring to former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who ruled the country for three decades until the first free elections in 2008.
Even under the former government, which was relatively liberal, Rasheed received death threats, was arrested and had his website closed down by the Islamic affairs ministry. Last December, his skull was fractured by thugs during a rally for religious tolerance.
Human Resources and Youth Minister Mohamed Shareef condemned the stabbing in an interview with AFP shortly afterwards, but he also implied that Rasheed should have known he had become a target.
"We are not a secular country. When you talk about religion there will always be a few people who do not agree," he said.
The Maldives, despite the welcome given to the tourists from the West, is an Islamic republic where openly practising another religion is illegal under its Sharia law, as is drinking alcohol and adultery.
"It (the attack) had nothing to do with religious extremism or his work as a journalist," presidential spokesman Masood Imad said.
"He is a member of a gang and had been attacked by rival gang members in the past too. It is unfair to blame this attack on anything else," Imad said.
Rasheed says police have identified the "Islamic extremists" responsible for slitting his throat, "they came to show me their photos" but no arrests have been made.
Maldives is ranked 73 out of 179 countries on the Reporter’s Without Borders 2011-2012 press freedom index.