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Minister accuses Al Jazeera of peddling 'distortion, lies'

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Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak has accused Al Jazeera of having an "ulterior motive" for airing an investigative documentary programme on Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu’s death today.

Attacking from the word go on his blog posting tonight, the former Sabah chief minister said 'Murder in Malaysia' programme is "naughty", "malicious" and "a sensational story being presented as the truth".

Salleh called it "a rehash of an old story and presented as if it is a current development".

"Why Al Jazeera wants to spin this distortion, some of which are merely lies and speculation, leads to a suspicion that an ulterior motive may be the reason," he wrote on his blog .

The programme was broadcast today under the 101 East programme at 6.30am, with a repeat at 5.30pm and is available online at the Al Jazeera website.

The journalist behind the investigative piece, Mary Ann Jolley, was said to have been deported from Kuala Lumpur on June 14, after the Home Ministry deemed her activity as having a "potential negative effect on the image of Malaysia".

Salleh said the content of the documentary has not been verified.

"Everything featured in that documentary is based on hearsay and not based on any tangible evidence," he wrote.

'More fiction that fact'

Salleh criticised Al Jazeera for including re-enactments with voiceovers in the show, saying the programme did not elaborate how the scenes are an adaption of what really happened.

Salleh said some of the evidence produced have also been outrightly rejected by the French authorities which investigated the submarine purchase the Mongolian was said to be involved in.

The minister repeated that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak denied ever meeting Altantuya or even knowing her.

He said it was mischievous for the Al Jazeera report to use a statement by private investigator P Balasubramaniam ( photo ) implicating the Prime Minister, when the French police has considered the testimony as "unreliable and inconsistent".

Listing other 'fallacies' in the programme, Salleh pointed out that "Murder in Malaysia' did not state one key fact - that the submarine deal was between the French and Malaysian governments and not between individuals.

"This (documentary) is a classic case of facts being weaved with fiction, with more fiction than facts, and stories that had been floating around and which were never substantiated being the basis of the Al Jazeera report," he added.

Salleh, appointed a minister in a cabinet reshuffle on July 29, has been actively blogging in defence of the Najib administration and its policies.

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