KUALA LUMPUR — Aug. 4, 2020: The local office of news broadcaster Aljazeera was raided by police today and two computers seized as part of an investigation into a documentary about migrants that has angered the Malaysian government.
Authorities had launched the investigation last month, adding to concerns about worsening media freedom in Malaysia.
The investigation was reportedly related to laws on sedition, defamation and transmitting offensive content.
Seven journalists, including five Australians, were called up last month while a Bangladeshi migrant worker interviewed in the programme has been arrested and is awaiting deportation.
The documentary by the Qatar-based and owned broadcaster — “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown” – was on the detention of undocumented foreigners when the Covid-19 lockdown was in place.
“Conducting a raid on our office and seizing computers is a troubling escalation in the authorities’ crackdown on media freedom,” said Giles Trendle, managing director of Aljazeera English.
“Al Jazeera calls upon Malaysian authorities to cease this criminal investigation into our journalists.”
The government criticised the programme as misleading and inaccurate.
Police had earlier stated that the investigation would be fair and that the journalists were being questioned as witnesses, not suspects.
Authorities insist the arrests of undocumented migrants were necessary to protect the public, although rights groups raised concerns that placing them in detention centres could increase the risk of coronavirus infection.