Najib defends Al Jazeera walkout, calls journalist a victim of propaganda

Journalist Mary Ann Jolley with her award from the Royal Television Society. (Twitter pic)

PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak today defended his act of abruptly ending an interview with Al Jazeera last year, an episode which earned the “Interview of the Year” award from a British media body.

“I have no problems walking away from a foreign reporter as long as I do not walk away from my people,” he said, responding to the Royal Television Society’s decision to honour journalist Mary Ann Jolley who conducted the interview aired on Al Jazeera’s 101 East programme in October last year.

In the interview, Jolley had pressed the former prime minister on whether he had knowledge about the murders of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu, AmBank founder Hussain Najadi and deputy public prosecutor Kevin Morais.

Angered by the questions, Najib told Jolley to focus on issues of the economy. Despite initially agreeing to remain in his seat, he walked out when Jolley posed a question on fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, who is wanted in connection with the 1MDB scandal.

Najib today said the Al Jazeera host was obsessed with the Altantuya case, adding that she had been influenced by “elaborately crafted political propaganda by those who are in power today”.

“Please tell her that her obsession has been proven unfounded as the police under the new government has found no evidence linking me to the Mongolian woman’s death.

“There is no cover-up,” said Najib.

Najib has been frequently linked to the murder of Altantuya – whose body was blown up in a forest clearing near Shah Alam in 2006 – due to his aide Abdul Razak Baginda’s affair with the Mongolian woman.

Razak was later acquitted without charge, although a new investigation is set to open into the murder which has been linked to allegations of multi-million dollar kickbacks in Malaysia’s purchase of two French submarines when Najib was the defence minister.

Najib also claimed that the public had been fed with misleading information on the issue.

“For example, the courts have long ago proven the explosives used were not C4 despite popular belief.

“For the final time, I have never met the victim. Ever,” he said.