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Monday, March 14, 2016

Canberra to get to bottom of issue on arrests of journalists

The Australian government is raising the arrests of two of its journalists last week to the Malaysian government to the “highest levels”, reported Associated Press (AP).

AP reported Foreign Minister Julie Bishop saying Canberra is raising the manner in which the journalists were treated to the Malaysian authorities.

"We will do what we can to get to the bottom of this issue and make representations at the highest levels within the Malaysian government.

“I’m always concerned where there are instances of a crackdown on freedom of speech in democracies particularly and I’m also concerned about the freedom that journalists have to carry out their work in places around the world, so these are matters that we raise with governments from time to time and we certainly will with Malaysia," Bishop told reporters in Fiji.

According to the report, Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) journalist Linton Besser and camera operator Louie Eroglu were arrested in Kuching, Sarawak on Saturday after approaching Prime Minister Najib Razak on the street.

They were attempting to interview Najib over corruption allegations, wrote the report.

However Malaysian police in a statement yesterday said they were detained for crossing security lines and approaching the prime minister “aggressively”.

ABC has denied this, saying their reporters had not acted out of line.

Both were released without charge yesterday, but were reportedly told not to leave the country after their passports were returned.

Prior to their encounter with the PM, the ABC duo were also at a press conference organised by pro-Najib lobbyists in Kuala Lumpur, at which they were involved in an unpleasant encounter with the organisers.

The press conference by NGO Pertubuhan Minda Sosial dan Prihatin (PMSP) was organised for widow of late private investigator P Balasubramaniam, a prominent figure in the controversy over the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu, to apologise to Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor.

Besser at the press conference accused PMSP president Ramesh Rao of staging A Santamil Selvi's apology by promising her RM50,000 and financial aid for her children.

Ramesh has denied this allegation and accused the ABC journalists of gatecrashing the press conference.

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