Malaysian police raided the workplace of reports broadcaster Al Jazeera and two native TV stations on Tuesday, seizing computer systems as a part of an investigation right into a documentary on undocumented migrants that enraged the federal government.
Al Jazeera, a Qatari-state owned broadcaster, mentioned in an announcement that police seized two computer systems through the raid, which it known as a “troubling escalation” in a authorities crackdown on media freedom. It urged Malaysian authorities to stop the legal investigation.
Police opened an investigation final month into the Al Jazeera documentary on the remedy of undocumented migrants after officers complained it was inaccurate and biased. Seven Al Jazeera workers members have been grilled by police as a part of the probe for alleged sedition, defamation and violating the Communications and Multimedia Act.
Police obtained courtroom warrants to look the places of work of Al Jazeera in addition to native broadcasters Astro and Unifitv, legal investigation chief Huzir Mohamed mentioned in an announcement. The 2 native TV stations had reportedly aired the video.
Huzir mentioned the raids had been carried out collectively with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Fee, which can be investigating the stations.
He mentioned police seized computer systems which shall be despatched for additional evaluation and took statements from witnesses through the raids. “No particular person or entity shall be spared from motion if they’ve violated the legislation,” he mentioned.
Al Jazeera mentioned the raid was “an assault on press freedom as an entire” and urged Malaysian authorities to stop the legal investigation.
“Conducting a raid on our workplace and seizing computer systems is a troubling escalation within the authorities’ crackdown on media freedom and reveals the lengths they’re ready to take to attempt to intimidate journalists,” mentioned Giles Trendle, managing director of Al Jazeera English.
“Al Jazeera stands by our journalists and we stand by our reporting. Our workers did their jobs they usually’ve acquired nothing to reply for or apologize for. Journalism isn’t against the law,” he mentioned.
The documentary, titled “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown,” investigated undocumented immigrants it mentioned had been in danger through the coronavirus pandemic. Greater than 2,000 migrant staff had been arrested throughout raids in areas in Kuala Lumpur that had been positioned below tight virus lockdowns.
Malaysian authorities additionally detained a Bangladeshi man interviewed within the documentary after revoking his work allow, and mentioned they’ll deport him for criticizing the federal government over its dealing with of undocumented migrants.
“The authorities’ relentless pursuit of Al Jazeera appears to be pushed by a want to punish journalists who aired Malaysia’s soiled laundry relatively than a superb religion utility of the legislation,” mentioned Matthew Bugher, head of the Asia program of British-based rights group ARTICLE 19.
He mentioned Malaysia ought to examine the rights violations proven within the documentary as an alternative of concentrating on the filmmakers.
Rights activists have voiced concern over a clampdown on freedom of speech and media independence below new Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who took energy in March.
Astro was just lately fined for airing an Al Jazeera documentary in 2015 concerning the 2006 homicide of a Mongolian lady that allegedly contained “offensive content material.”
Fashionable on-line information portal Malaysiakini and its editor face uncommon contempt proceedings from the lawyer normal over feedback posted by readers towards the judiciary. Police additionally questioned an activist a couple of social media submit alleging mistreatment of refugees at immigration detention facilities.
A journalist from the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Publish was additionally questioned earlier about her reporting on migrant arrests.