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Govt ‘lied’ about Saudi journalist’s arrest

 | March 22, 2012

Lawyers for Liberty says it has photographic evidence to show that both the home minister and police lied.

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty has obtained photographs to show that the government had allegedly lied about Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari’s arrest.

In a press statement, the organisation said the photographs affirmatively showed that Hamza was actually in the country for a couple of days before his arrest on Feb 9.

Among others, the photos depict Hamza posing at the Titiwangsa Lake and Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur.

“The home minister and the police had continuously maintained that Hamza was arrested upon his arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Feb 9 when in fact he was stopped by the immigration at the KLIA departure hall while trying to board a plane to Auckland after having arrived in Malaysia on Feb 7,” said Lawyers for Liberty.

For example, Lawyers for Liberty said, police spokesman Ramli Yoosuf was widely reported as stating that Hamza was taken into custody after flying into Malaysia’s international airport:

“Hamza was detained at the airport upon arrival following a request made to us by Interpol after the Saudi authorities applied for it,” he was quoted as saying.

However, Lawyers for Liberty stated the photographic proof reaffirmed what it had maintained all along – that Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and the police had bent over backwards to please the Saudi Arabian government.

It said that both Hishammuddin and the police had “resorted to lies and deception” in order to save the embarrassment that they had allowed Hamza to enter Malaysia and to further justify the journalist’s unlawful detention and deportation which violated domestic and international law.

“Lawyers for Liberty was informed by Hamza’s lawyer in Saudi Arabia that Hamza was brought to the criminal court on March 7 where his ‘repentance’ was recorded.

“However, he remains in solitary confinement at al-Hair Prison and he has yet to have access to his lawyer. There is still no indication from the Saudi authorities whether Hamza will be released or how long he will be detained,” read the statement.

Hamza, 23, courted controversy with tweets on Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, which led to charges of blasphemy and calls for his death.

He had posted a series of tweets of imaginary conversations with the Prophet, in which he spoke to him as an equal, showing his admiration for the man but also confusion around his persona.


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