Vindicated, Clare says 1MDB episode shows importance of press freedom

Clare Rewcastle-Brown says press freedom is crucial to check on leaders.

PETALING JAYA: Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the London-based journalist who was among key personalities behind exposes on the 1MDB affair, said she was relieved to see the “most powerful in the country” brought to justice, following the arrest of former prime minister Najib Razak today.

Rewcastle-Brown, who was wanted by Malaysian police following reports on the troubled state firm published in her website Sarawak Report, said the whole 1MDB episode showed the importance of ensuring press freedom so that leaders are accountable for their actions.

“For three years as I tried to report the facts of this case and to present worrying information that deserved to be aired and properly investigated. I found myself hounded by the then authorities,” Rewcastle-Brown told FMT.

“The Malaysian people need an independent media and independent judiciary and police force and I am grateful this is being recognised in the many structural changes we presently see underway.”

She said journalists can get things wrong, but they reap the consequences for mistakes in terms of reputation and can be sued for malicious errors.

“However, they should not be silenced or prosecuted as criminals in the way I was for challenging Najib over 1MDB.”

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) picked up Najib from his home in Taman Duta, Kuala Lumpur, this afternoon.

He will be charged tomorrow over offences related to SRC International, the former subsidiary of 1MDB.

In raids over the last two months at several private properties in Kuala Lumpur, police uncovered cash, luxury goods and jewellery, with an estimated value of some RM1 billion.

Najib has maintained that the seized goods were gifts to his family during his premiership.

Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and their son Riza Aziz were also summoned to answer questions from MACC investigators over allegations related to the state fund.

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