Free Anwar now, and here are the reasons, says his international lawyer

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KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to “immediately and unconditionally” release Anwar Ibrahim from prison.

Kimberley Motley, Anwar’s international legal counsel said “the urgency behind this request stems largely from the fact that Anwar is currently in hospital as a result of medical surgery that he received”.

Also, Motley said, he had served more than 1,000 days of his five-year sentence for sodomy.

The human rights lawyer said if Malaysia wanted to be well-regarded by the international community, and if it wanted more foreign investment inflows, it should release Anwar, whom she described as a prisoner of conscience.

She also said, in a statement, that any suggestion that the administration of US President Donald Trump had endorsed Prime Minister Najib Razak was wrong.

In March 2014, the Court of Appeal overturned Anwar’s acquittal by the High Court and sentenced him to five years in jail for sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari, 30, at the Desa Damansara condominium in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008.

On Feb 10 the following year, the Federal Court upheld the decision. With one-third remission, Anwar, 70, should be out of prison in June next year.

Saying that the circumstances of Anwar’s conviction were “exceedingly unjust and a flagrant violation of his most basic rights”, Motley reminded the government that “the world is closely watching your treatment of Anwar Ibrahim and how you respond to requests to release this prisoner of conscience”.

“If indeed you wish to continue to forge productive economic and diplomatic ties with the US and other countries, then we urge you to remedy this situation immediately. Show the world – that Malaysia truly intends to respect the fundamental dignity and freedom of the Malaysian people starting with Anwar.”

The US-based Motley, who was officially appointed by Anwar on Sept 7 to represent him, on a pro bono basis, said: “I understand that it has been suggested that the Trump administration has somehow endorsed Prime Minister Najib Razak subsequent to his White House meeting with the president. This seriously misrepresents the position in America as I understand it.

“There has been serious concern in the US establishment that has been voiced in relation to the continued imprisonment of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“The US administration has repeatedly expressed concern over Anwar’s imprisonment; as have key US congressional leaders, diplomats from multiple countries around the world, as well as international human rights agencies.”

Motley said it should be noted that Trump skipped Malaysia in his recent Asian tour.

“Perhaps one of the best ways that Malaysia can improve its international standing and the influx of foreign investments, is to unconditionally release Anwar Ibrahim from prison. The continued imprisonment of Anwar severely undermines Malaysia’s credibility as it relates to its respect for human rights which also impacts its foreign relations and economic standing internationally.”

Motley said she hoped to personally raise the matter with Najib “in the near future”.

Last September Motley, the Mrs Wisconsin-America winner in 2004, had met Anwar at the Sungai Buloh prison. Initially, prison authorities did not allow her to meet Anwar. However, she later met Anwar and publicly thanked Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for making it possible.