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Malaysia 23 September 2008

Interior minister orders blogger held for two years under draconian security law

Marina Lee (RPK’s wife)

Reporters Without Borders “strongly condemns” yesterday’s decision by the interior minister to order the detention of blogger Raja Petra “RPK” Kamarudin, the editor of the Malaysia Today news website, for two years under Malaysia’s draconian Internal security act (ISA). Arrested on 12 September, Raja Petra has been transferred to Kamunting detention centre, northeast of Kuala Lumpur. He is accused of insulting Islam and of insulting a political leader.

“As well as being issued arbitrarily, behind closed doors and without informing Raja Petra’s lawyers, this detention order is devoid of any legal basis as it violates the constitutionally-guaranteed right of religious freedom,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The interior minister clearly wants to silence RPK for good and to keep up pressure on bloggers who dare to criticise the increasingly fragile government. We call for his release.”

Raja Petra’s lawyers learned of the detention order when they appeared today before a Kuala Lumpur criminal court to plead for his release. It emerged that interior minister Syed Hamid Albar signed the order yesterday transferring him to Kamunting detention centre for two years under ISA article 8 (1).

In front of Kuala Lumpur criminal court (09.23.2008)

The article says: “If the minister is satisfied that the detention of any person is necessary with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to the maintenance of essential services therein or the economic life thereof, he may make an order directing that that person be detained for any period not exceeding two years.” The detention order can be renewed indefinitely.

Aged 58, Raja Petra had been held in Kuala Lumpur since 12 September under article 73 of the same law. It says “Any police officer may without warrant arrest and detain pending enquiries any person in respect of whom he has reason to believe that there are grounds which would justify his detention under section 8; and that he has acted or is about to act or is likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof.”

Raja Petra is charged with sewing confusion within the people and attacking Islam’s sacred status. He is considered as a threat to public order.His lawyers will be able to present arguments in his defence at a hearing scheduled for 28 October.

Raja Petra was constantly harassed while held in a police station in Kuala Lumpur. He was put in a cell without a window and just a plank of wood for a bed, and was subjected to lengthy interrogation sessions designed to demonstrate that he was a bad Muslim. The police also deprived him of sleep.

More information about Raja Petra

Watch an appeal by Raja Petra’s wife

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