The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and journalists for press freedom today (August 4) condemned the raid on Al Jazeera’s Kuala Lumpur offices by Malaysian police.
According to Al Jazeera, two computers were seized in the raid, which came after local authorities announced an investigation into Al Jazeera for sedition, defamation and violation of the country’s Communications and Multimedia Act.
“The raid on Al Jazeera offices is unacceptable and demonstrates that the Malaysian government is not willing to accept criticism of its actions”, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said in condemning the police action. “Malaysia is reversing the progress made by the previous government to uphold press freedom. The recent actions of the government pose a serious threat to democracy and press freedom in the country.“
Early last month, Malaysian police began investigating six Al Jazeera journalists over a documentary (titled “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown”) that aired on July 3 and examined the Malaysian government’s treatment of undocumented migrant workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
At the time, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob called on Al Jazeera to apologize to Malaysians. The journalists involved in the documentary’s production were questioned on charges of sedition and defamation, which carry possible jail terms.
Al Jazeera staff and individuals interviewed in the documentary said they had faced abuse, death threats and doxing in the month that followed.
Press freedom in the country has been declining since the country’s new government took office in early 2020.