An ABC journalist and camera operator have been told they will not be charged by Malaysian authorities after attempting to question Prime Minister Najib Razak during a public event in Kuching.
Last night, reporter Linton Besser and cameraman Louie Eroglu were told they would likely be charged with obstructing a public servant in the discharge of their duties.
But three hours after the pair were ordered to court to face charges, their lawyer was called by police and told no charges would be filed and they may be able to leave the country this morning.
Malaysian police previously said the pair were being investigated for failing to comply with instructions not to cross a police line.
Besser questioned Mr Razak as he walked into a mosque on Saturday night, asking the Prime Minister why hundreds of millions of dollars had been deposited into his bank account.
The pair were surrounded by the Prime Minister’s security team and then allowed to leave, before later being arrested and questioned for six hours in a police station.
Their passports were taken and then returned, but they were told not to leave the country while their case was investigated.
Yesterday the lawyer for the ABC pair, Albert Tang, said he received a call from Ng Ahlek, the superintendent of police for Malaysia’s Padawan District, telling him to bring his clients to court at 8:30am (local time) so they could be charged.
“When asked who made the decision to institute the charge against my clients, he said it was the Attorney-General who made the decision,” Mr Tang said on Monday.
Mr Tang said normally those decisions were made by a local deputy public prosecutor.
“I suppose this is being regarded as a high-profile case, that is why the Attorney-General himself is making the decision,” he said.
ABC News director Gaven Morris has previously denied the allegations that were made about the behaviour of Besser and Eroglu at the event in Kuching.
“I can tell you that at no time did our journalists obstruct or intend to obstruct any public servants in performance of their duties,” Mr Morris said in a statement yesterday.
“They did not see a police line and do not believe they crossed one. They stopped filming and left the event as soon as they were asked. They fully cooperated with the police before and after their arrest.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has said Australia’s High Commissioner in Malaysia is in contact with the pair.
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Courtesy of ABC.Net.au