Malaysia police question Australian Al Jazeera journalists

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police on Friday (Jul 10) called in a group of Australian journalists from Al Jazeera for questioning over a documentary about the arrest of migrants, as the broadcaster expressed shock at the investigation.

The probe into the Qatar-based network's programme has added to concerns about a widening media crackdown in Malaysia since a coalition headed by a scandal-plagued party took power in March.

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In addition to the Al Jazeera case, the head of a leading news portal has been accused of contempt of court while a health news site's editor is being probed over an article.

The Al Jazeera documentary, "Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown", looked at the detention of hundreds of migrants found without valid documents in areas under strict coronavirus lockdowns.

But the government denounced it as misleading and inaccurate, and police are now investigating the broadcaster for alleged sedition and defamation.

READ: Malaysia opens probe into Al Jazeera report on migrant arrests

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On Friday, several Australian journalists involved in making the show for "101 East", which features in-depth investigations, were summoned for questioning at the national police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

The journalists – including a reporter, an executive producer, a producer and a cameraman – were accompanied by their lawyers as they arrived at the station, where a media scrum was waiting.

Another two Al Jazeera staff members were also seen entering.

Lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told reporters that the journalists "refute all the charges".

"There was no intent by Al Jazeera to create any mischief," he said.

Ahead of the questioning, Al Jazeera said it was "shocked" by Malaysia's response to the documentary, broadcast on Jul 3, and it stood by the "professionalism, quality and impartiality of its journalism".

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