2 Aussie journalists nabbed after trying to question Najib
TWO Australian journalists were arrested for suspected breach of security in Sarawak after they posed questions at an event to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak concerning an alleged corruption scandal, reported local and foreign media.
According to Sarawak CID chief Dev Kumar, Australian reporters Linton Besser, 39, and Louis Eroglu, 51, crossed a security line on Saturday and aggressively tried to approach Mr Najib, who was on an official visit to a mosque in Kuching's Sentosa neighbourhood.
Mr Najib was in Sarawak for three days starting Friday to campaign with local politicians ahead of the state's local elections, which must be held before the end of next month.
The journalists were subsequently arrested for failing to comply with police instructions not to cross the security line, The Star daily quoted the police officer as saying yesterday.
They were then brought to a police station for questioning before being released on bail yesterday morning and with their passports confiscated pending investigation, added The Star.
The fate of the journalists will be decided by the Attorney-General's Chambers, Malaysian police said yesterday.
According to Albert Tang, the lawyer for the journalists, the two were picked up at their hotel after the event.
"They denied any accusation of obstructing anybody and there was no security line," he told The Malaysian Insider news website.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) confirmed yesterday that its journalist Besser and camera operator Eroglu, both from its current affairs programme Four Corners, were detained for some six hours after attending a press conference in Kuching.
According to the ABC, the two had been in Malaysia investigating allegations of corruption and bribery linked to the brutal killing of Mongolian socialite Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006.
She was killed allegedly by two of Mr Najib's bodyguards in Kuala Lumpur, one of whom is now jailed in Sydney for illegal immigration after he fled Malaysia following conviction for the murder.
Allegations have simmered for years that Ms Shaariibuu was murdered to keep her quiet about the purported receipt of kickbacks by high-level Malaysian officials from a multi-billion-dollar purchase of submarines when Mr Najib was defence minister.
Mr Najib's office has repeatedly dismissed attempts to link him to the murder of the 28-year-old as "entirely false smears motivated by political gain".
Mr Besser had on Saturday attempted to put questions to Mr Najib about the case, which led to his arrest, said the Sydney Morning Herald.
Sally Neighbour, Four Corners' executive producer, also said on Twitter that the two were arrested after trying to question Mr Najib over a corruption scandal.