Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian police said Today, two Australian journalists were detained and barred from leaving Malaysia after they had tried to aggressively question Prime Minister Najib Razak about a corruption scandal. On assignment for the weekly current-affairs program Four Corners, reporter Linton Besser and cameraman Louie Eroglu were detained in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, late Saturday and released Sunday morning, the ABC reported.
Their passports were seized and they have been told not to leave Malaysia, according to the report. “They have not been charged with any offense,” an ABC spokesperson said Today. “They have been released on bail.” Malaysian police confirmed the arrest, saying the crew were detained after they allegedly crossed a security cordon while trying to interview Mr. Najib.
“Both of them were subsequently arrested for failing to comply with police instructions not to cross the security line,” Sarawak Criminal Investigation Department chief Dev Kumar said in a statement, adding that the case is being investigated under laws prohibiting the obstruction of public servants in the discharge of their duties. He also said the pair has been instructed to report back to police Monday. Gordon Tang, one of the lawyers acting for the two journalists, Sunday said his clients denied crossing a security line and approaching Mr. Najib in an aggressive manner. Mr. Tang said his clients complied with a police request to leave the area after attempting to put their questions to the prime minister. He also said the men’s passports were returned Sunday afternoon.
Malaysia’s police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, said prosecutors will determine what action will be taken. The television crew is in Malaysia researching a story on corruption, including allegations surrounding Malaysian state-investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., known as 1MDB, the advisory board of which is chaired by Mr. Najib. An executive producer at Four Corners, Sally Neighbour, wrote on her verified Twitter account Sunday that the crew was trying to question Mr. Najib over “a corruption scandal.”