Two Australian journalists from the ABC Four Corners current affairs programme who were detained by police in Kuching yesterday have denied any wrongdoing, said their lawyer Albert Tang.
“They were just carrying out their duties and asked the prime minister (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) questions. They stopped when they were told to.
“They denied any accusation of obstructing anybody and there was no security line,” Tang told The Malaysian Insider.
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”.
The journalists – Linton Besser, 39, and Louis Eroglu, 51 – tried to approach Najib who was on an official visit to the Darul Ehsan Mosque at Kampung Haji Baki, Kota Sentosa, at 8.35pm last night.
Tang said the journalists did ask Najib questions, but he was not aware of the questions being asked.
The lawyer added that he was contacted by the Australian Consular at around 11pm to assist the duo, who were picked up by the police from their hotel earlier.
“They were very cooperative with the police,” added Tang.
Besser and Eroglu were released on police bail at 3am after their statements were recorded.
Their passports have been confiscated pending investigation and they are required to report to the police station on March 16.
They are being investigated under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public servant in discharge of public function.
A local person assisting the team, Edgar Ong, was present at the Padawan police station when police recorded the journalists' statements. He was not detained.
Sarawak CID chief Dev Kumar M.M Sree Shunmugan said the Australian journalists had crossed the security line and aggressively tried to approach Najib.
“Both of them were subsequently arrested for failing to comply with police instructions not to cross the security line,” he said in a press statement today.
The journalists arrived in Malaysia on March 5 and reached Kuching on March 12 to cover Najib’s official visit to Sarawak. – March 13, 2016.