Two Australian journalists have been detained in Malaysia following their attempt to question the nation’s Prime Minister Najib Razak on his corruption allegations, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed on Monday.
The Malaysian police claimed that the duo, ABC television reporter Linton Besser and camera operator Louie Eroglu, crossed the security line and approached the prime minister aggressively, which prompted officials to arrest the journalists. They said that the journalists did not comply with the police instructions. The PM was on his visit to a mosque in Kuching located on the island of Borneo when the incident took place.
ABC News reported Bishop confirming that the journalists were arrested on Saturday and were detained for six hours with an instruction to remain in Kuching until the authorities decided where they should be charged. The Aussie media men breached Malaysian press freedom which resulted in their detention. The foreign minister, during her visit to Fiji, claimed that the nation was concerned about the duo and that the government has raised the case at the “highest levels” of 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,” Bishop told reporters.
The Business Standard reported that the passports of the journalists were seized earlier but the authorities have returned them the document. However, they were still not allowed to leave Malaysia until the case was suspended.
“We will discuss with the Attorney General’s Chambers [whether] to charge them,” local news agency Bernama quoted Malaysia’s national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar as saying. “Police are responsible for the prime minister’s security. So we do not want anything untoward happening to him,” he added.