Two days after Umno-linked New Straits Times painted Xavier Andre Justo as a "hedonistic" and "greedy" man with a photograph of him covered in tatoos on its front page, Sarawak Report today sought to give another human face to him.
Sarawak Report , which spoke to Justo's friends in Switzerland, said his family was distraught at the "terrible injustice" to make him a "scapegoat" over Malaysia's billion-dollar scandal and the "orchestrated" defamation against him.
Justo, a former staff of PetroSaudi International (PetroSaudi), was arrested in Thailand on Monday for allegedly blackmailing his former employer using information he purportedly stole from the company.
PetroSaudi's leaked information, which included its communications with 1MDB, had put the latter in a spot as it revealed questionable fund transfers to a company allegedly controlled by Malaysian billionaire Jho Low, who is close to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s family.
Sarawak Report , which published the leak, said Justo's family and friends are unwilling to speak publicly due to legal advice but are confident that he will come out innocent.
The report added that Justo's wife and nine-month-old baby were due to return after a holiday in Switzerland.
“Reading some of the Malaysian newspapers and the awful things they have said about her husband has made this experience so much worse for Mrs Justo and all his relatives and friends, because we know Xavier and we know these smears about his character could not be further from the truth.
“They were just trying to make a home and a life for their new family in Thailand.
"All this talk about luxury living, 'unrestrained hedonism' with 'excess alcohol', it’s just not true.
"Yes, Xavier has some tattoos, but so do our friends who work in Swiss banks. In fact, Xavier is into healthy living and training and hardly ever drinks," Sarawak Report quoted Justo's family friends as saying.
'Starting a tourism business'
The report claimed that the Justo was a "well liked" and "generous" person who had helped the locals and is accepted by the community in Koh Samui, where he was arrested.
It added that the Justo family had developed their beach resort, comprising eight bedrooms and 11 toilets, with plans to rent them out as part of a tourism business.
"Justo’s supporters also say they do not understand how PetroSaudi can be accusing him of seeking to blackmail the company with using emails, which they are at the same time telling journalists, were 'tampered' and 'distorted' versions of the originals.
"If there had been nothing to hide, how could a former employee have threatened extortion?" said the Sarawak Report .
Sarawak Report also produced several pictures of Justo with his family.
The report was in stark contrast to New Straits Times which published an unflattering description of Justo.
"He had it all, a beautiful wife, a luxury eight-bedroom mansion on the tropical paradise of Koh Samui, and living the hedonistic lifestyle.
"But it was still not enough. The desire to fund his lavish existence apparently drove him to allegedly extort and blackmail his former employer, PetroSaudi, which in turn ignited a major Malaysian political firestorm," it said.
Justo's wife and son was also edited out in the front-page report, leaving behind a topless Justo covered in tatoo.