Malaysiakini News

MP: Accusations against Aussie journos a 'red herring'

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The allegation that the two Australian journalists questioning Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak were obstructing public officers is a mere red herring, said Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh.

He said the fact that no charges had been pressed against them shows that there was no offence committed, as they would have been charged if there was evidence of wrongdoing.

“There was absolutely nothing wrong for one of the said journalists to have questioned the prime minister about funds that allegedly found their way into his personal accounts.

“It is disgraceful to have acted against them with such high handedness as it is obvious that the allegation that they had obstructed a public servant in the discharge of his public functions was nothing more than a red herring since the AG himself found no evidence of same,” the DAP parliamentarian said in a statement today.

Journalist Linton Besser and cameraman Louie Eroglu were arrested in Kuching on the night of March 12, hours after posing questions to the premier about the RM2.6 billion deposited into his personal bank account.

The duo are from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) 'Four Corners' investigative reporting programme.

Sarawak CID chief Dev Kumar said the duo had 'aggressively approached' Najib, while the ABC denied this, saying there was no security cordon.

They were originally to be charged this morning under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public servant in the discharge of his public functions, but had been deported instead after a last-minute change of heart.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said it was a security measure to protect Najib, while his deputy Nur Jazlan Mohamed said it was an immigration issue but that didn't mean it wasn't also a security issue.

Nur Jazlan explained that the duo entered Malaysia on a tourist visa and did not have a work permit.

Meanwhile, Ramkarpal said he hoped the Australian government would address the issue and demand answers on why its journalists had been arrested.

“The arrest of the said journalists marked a significant note in media freedom in the country as it is capable of conveying the message that such freedom is no longer tolerated.

“Canberra should not sit back and allow its citizens to be treated in such a manner, particularly when they were merely carrying out their duties as journalists,” he said.

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