(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) — 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 a press release 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 employees 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 workplaces of Al Jazeera in addition to native broadcasters Astro and Unifitv, legal investigation chief Huzir Mohamed mentioned in a press release. The 2 native TV stations had reportedly aired the video.
Huzir mentioned the raids had been performed collectively with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Fee, which can also 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 regulation,” he mentioned.
Al Jazeera mentioned the raid was “an assault on press freedom as a complete” 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 employees did their jobs they usually’ve bought nothing to reply for or apologize for. Journalism just 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 may 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 somewhat than a great religion utility of the regulation,” 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 a substitute 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 in regards to the 2006 homicide of a Mongolian girl that allegedly contained “offensive content material.”
Widespread on-line information portal Malaysiakini and its editor face uncommon contempt proceedings from the lawyer basic over feedback posted by readers in opposition to 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.