Police begin probe over documentary which alleged Malaysian authorities had mistreated migrants during the lockdown period of the movement control order.
Six employees of Al Jazeera arrived at the Bukit Aman police headquarters this morning, as police begin a probe into the satellite news channel over its documentary on Malaysia’s alleged treatment of migrants.
The group, accompanied by seven lawyers led by Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, went in at 8.50am. Among those called up included Al Jazeera journalist Drew Ambrose.
The five others include a producer, editor, cameramen, and technician who were similarly involved in the production of the 25-minute documentary.
Yesterday, the Bukit Aman Classified Criminal Investigations Department had summoned what they deemed as witnesses to have their statements recorded over the 25-minute Locked Up In Malaysia’s Lockdown documentary posted on YouTube on June 3.
The report, on the authorities’ treatment of migrants under the movement control order (MCO) to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, sparked outrage from government leaders, with police reports filed against the Qatar-based news channel.
The documentary included interviews with migrants, NGOs, civil society organisations, and trade associations.
The report had angered the government, which denied the claims of racism, and maintained that the handling of migrants was done according to the law.
Ministers, the Immigration Department, and the police had all reacted to the documentary, with Defence minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob demanding an apology from the news agency.
Immigration authorities have also launched a manhunt for a Bangladeshi worker featured in the report.
The Immigration’s director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud had then warned that foreigner nationals making negative statements about Malaysia could see their passes revoked, a day before his department released the Bangladeshi’s complete details seeking public assistance to locate him.
Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID) deputy director (investigation/legal) Mior Faridalathrash Wahid confirmed that police have also recorded the statement of a social activist over a Facebook post alleging the mistreatment of detainees at Immigration Department depots.
He said investigation papers have been opened under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act, Section 500 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.
Since the airing of the documentary, Al-Jazeera’s staff have had their personal details revealed online, raising concerns over a privacy breach and other forms of harassment.
The management of Al Jazeera last night said it stood by its controversial report on undocumented migrants in Malaysia and expressed concern over the online harassment its staff were facing over the documentary.
Speaking to reporters outside Bukit Aman, Hisyam stressed that his clients will cooperate fully with police investigations.
“I would also like to inform that before this AJ has also written a letter to the honourable minister of defence about this episode, and at the same time, they have also issued a press statement,” he said.
Hisyam also read out portions of Al-Jazeera’s statement which emphasised the Qatar-based outlet’s commitment to ensure fair and accurate reporting.
“I would like to emphasise (these) certain parts to say our clients refute these charges,” he said.
“We hope that after investigations, the police will not commence any actions whatsoever after getting the information they required,” he added.
He also revealed that a police report has been lodged at the Dang Wangi police station yesterday over security concerns.