Thursday, July 19, 2007

Malaysia: Aide to Anwar warns of controls on bloggers

A poster demanding for Nathaniel Tan's release circulated over the Malaysian blogosphere. see wiki page on Nathaniel Tan

Aide to Malaysia's Anwar warns of controls on bloggers

July 20, 2007 - 4:05AM

An aide to former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday accused authorities of unlawful detention and discriminatory controls on bloggers after he was released by police.
Nathaniel Tan, 27, was arrested last Friday under the Official Secrets Act on allegations, according to his lawyer, that he had secret documents relating to corruption allegations against the country's deputy internal security minister, Johari Baharom.
Tan, who was released on Tuesday, has denied the claim and said he was repeatedly questioned by police over an anonymous posting on his blog that had referred to the corruption.
"I have no information on the documents. I cannot make sense of this arrest," Tan said, noting that police failed to follow proper procedures when detaining him and also restricted contact with his lawyer.
Tan, who blogs under his own name, said he had later deleted a part of the anonymous comment as he felt it contained detailed allegations that could not be substantiated.
"The government and police appear to be sending a signal that while irresponsible bloggers roam free, responsible bloggers who moderate their comments and put a name to their writing are more likely to end up as targets," Tan said.
"This policy could not possibly be more ill-informed and counter-productive," he added.
Tan was arrested two days after authorities closed their investigations into allegations that Johari took bribes to free gangsters, saying there was no evidence of corruption.
"I unfortunately cannot rule out completely that the sub-standard and rushed nature of this investigation is the result of political meddling and pressure in police affairs," Tan said.
Tan was released on bail and is required to meet with police at the end of the month. He has not been charged with any offence.
Anwar is adviser to Keadilan, or the People's Justice Party, and has criticised Tan's arrest. Keadilan is led by Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Tan's case comes amid attacks on bloggers and Internet users by ministers, including Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who accuse them of spreading lies about the government.
Two prominent bloggers, Ahirudin Attan and Jeff Ooi, are also being sued for defamation by the government-linked New Straits Times Press group, a move criticised for attacking freedom of expression.
The Bangkok-based Southeast Asian Press Alliance protested Tan's arrest and said it was concerned that it "may be symptomatic of an emerging clampdown on online expression in Malaysia."

© 2006 AFP


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