KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — Police and officers from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on Tuesday morning (4 August) conducted a raid on Qatari-based international news agency Al Jazeera’s Kuala Lumpur office.
The raid took place in connection with the authorities’ investigations into a documentary made by Al Jazeera on the alleged mistreatment of migrant workers and undocumented migrants in Malaysia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The deputy director at the Criminal Investigation Department at the Malaysian police headquarters Bukit Aman told Malay Mail that the raid took place at 11.30 am today.
“This is part of our ongoing investigations,” said Deputy Commissioner Mior Faridalathrash Wahid.
Al Jazeera in a statement condemned the raid, saying that it is “not only as an attack on itself but on press freedom as a whole”.
Giles Trendle, Managing Director of Al Jazeera English, warned that the raid and the act of “seizing computers is a troubling escalation in the authorities’ crackdown on media freedom and shows the lengths they are prepared to take to try to intimidate journalists”.
On behalf of the news channel, he called upon the Malaysian authorities to end the criminal investigation against Al Jazeera’s journalists.
“Al Jazeera is gravely concerned that its staff are being investigated for sedition, defamation and violation of the country’s Communications and Multimedia Act, offences which carry jail terms and fines.
“Al Jazeera stands by our journalists and we stand by our reporting. Our staff did their jobs and they’ve got nothing to answer for or apologise for. Journalism is not a crime,” Trendle added.
Seven Al Jazeera staff members were questioned by Malaysian police, following the broadcast of the “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown” on the news channel’s “101 East” weekly current affairs show on 3 July.
The documentary was heavily criticised by Malaysian authorities as being inaccurate and misleading. To date, however, officials have not debunked the claims made in the documentary.
Democratic Action Party Member of Parliament for Seputeh and former Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok on Tuesday evening tweeted that Communication & Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah did not answer her question on the “action taken against Al Jazeera” when questioned about the matter in Parliament.
“He failed to answer me & he accused me playing politics! He didn’t answer me on d raid on Al Jazeera office by MCMC too,” she added.
I question Communication & Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on d action taken against Al Jazeera in Parliament. He failed to answer me & he accused me playing politics! He didn’t answer me on d raid on Al Jazeera office by MCMC too.Very disappointed! He is a changed man!
— Teresa Kok (@teresakok) August 4, 2020