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Anwar's daughter arrested for sedition

STREET PROTEST: Member of Parliament Nurul Izzah (centre), the eldest daughter of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, at a Kita Lawan (Fight Back) rally in Kuala Lumpur on March 7, aimed at forcing Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign. She has led several street rallies against her father's conviction.


    Mar 17, 2015

    Anwar's daughter arrested for sedition


    THE eldest daughter of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday that she had been arrested for sedition after reading out in Parliament parts of a speech by her father criticising his recent imprisonment.

    Nurul Izzah, 34, a Member of Parliament and popular public figure, confirmed her arrest by phone to Agence France-Presse (AFP) while in custody.

    She became the latest nabbed in a sedition crackdown by Malaysia's government that has seen dozens investigated, charged or convicted over the past year, including several top opposition politicians.

    "I am extremely angry, and we all should be, because as Parliament members, we should be free to criticise the government of the day without reprisal," said Ms Nurul, who also has led recent street rallies against Anwar's conviction.

    It is unclear what specific words the police felt were seditious. The authorities have not issued a statement. Parliament officials did not answer telephone calls to seek comment.

    "This police investigation is illegal, unconstitutional and a serious interference with the rights and privileges of parliament," N. Surendran, Anwar's lawyer, and a member of his People's Justice Party, said in a statement.

    Anwar was convicted on Feb 10 of sodomising a former male aide in 2008 and sentenced to five years in jail.

    He has denied the charge, calling it a "political conspiracy" designed by the coalition in power since 1957 to thwart steady opposition gains in recent elections.

    Ms Nurul last week read out in Parliament portions of a statement by Anwar, now in prison, in which he questioned the independence of Malaysia's judiciary.

    A police official told AFP that Ms Nurul was likely to be held at least overnight. The authorities have warned that criticising Anwar's jailing could mean sedition charges, and a handful of critics have already been investigated or charged.

    Government opponents say the sodomy case is part of a long-running campaign to remove Anwar, who was ousted from the ruling party in a late-1990s power struggle. He later helped inspire the fractious opposition into a formidable force.

    Anwar's conviction has been criticised by international human rights groups, Australia and the United States, which said it raised questions over the rule of law.