Two Australian journalists from the Four Corners current affairs show were detained in Kuching last night while reporting on “a local political issue”, the broadcaster ABC says.
Journalist Linton Besser (pic) and a camera operator have since been released. Edgar Ong, a local assisting the ABC team, was also held.
Sally Neighbour, the programme’s executive producer, said on Twitter the staff were arrested “after trying to question Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib Razak over a corruption scandal”.
Najib was in Kuching yesterday at the launch of the Malaysian National Digital Inclusion programme.
The crew had flown to Kuching yesterday and wanted to ask Najib about the alleged RM2.6 billion channelled into his bank accounts during the prime minister’s walkabout in Kampung Haji Baki.
However, Najib did not respond when the journalist asked the question and the prime minister’s security pushed the crew aside.
Police from the Kota Sentosa station picked the crew up after they had returned to their hotel.
The Australian consular in Kuching has appointed a lawyer to handle their case.
They are being investigated under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public servant in discharge of public function.
State CID chief Juman M.M Sree Shunmugan confirmed the incident and said the police would issue a statement shortly.
They had earlier covered the press conference of A. Santamil Selvi, the widow of private investigator P. Balasubramaniam before leaving for Kuching.
In a statement, state CID chief Dev Kumar M.M. Sree Shunmugan said the two, who allegedly obstructed public servants on duty, were released on police bail this morning after their statements were recorded.
Kumar said the duo had crossed the security line and aggressively tried to approach Najib, who was visiting the Darul Ehsan Mosque in Kampung Haji Baki, Kota Sentosa, at 8.35pm.
“Both of them were subsequently arrested for failing to comply with police instructions not to cross the security line.”
Both subjects, aged 51 and 39, were brought to the Padawan district police station for questioning.
They arrived in Malaysia on March 5 and reached Kuching on March 12 to cover Najib’s official visit to Sarawak. – March 13, 2016.