Friday, September 12, 2008

Malaysia's top anti-government blogger arrested

Malaysia's top anti-government blogger arrested

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Police detained Malaysia's top anti-government blogger Friday under a law allowing indefinite detention without trial, his wife said, in a move likely to face public reproach amid heightened political tensions.

Online commentator Raja Petra Raja Kamaruddin has infuriated authorities by publishing numerous claims about alleged misdeeds by government leaders on his influential Web site, Malaysia Today. The government has denounced many of Raja Petra's accusations as lies.

Raja Petra's wife, Marina Lee Abdullah, said police came to their home and informed them that he was being arrested under the Internal Security Act, a widely criticized law used against suspects regarded as national security threats.

Deputy Home Minister Wan Farid Wan Salleh, whose ministry handles police and security, declined to comment. Police officials could not immediately be contacted.

The move comes two weeks after the government's telecommunications industry regulator ordered Malaysian Internet service providers to cut off access to Malaysia Today because it had allegedly published racially inflammatory comments.

Raja Petra kept the site accessible through an alternative link amid a public outcry that the government was censoring cyberspace. Authorities lifted the ban Thursday, but warned they would use the Internal Security Act against anyone who stoked political and racial strife.

Some of Malaysia's most popular Web sites and blogs offer fiercely anti-government commentaries, presenting themselves as a substitute for mainstream media, which are controlled by ruling political parties or closely linked to them.

Raja Petra has repeatedly encountered troubles with the law. He was charged with sedition in May for allegedly implying the deputy prime minister was involved in the killing of a young Mongolian woman. His trial is scheduled to start next month.

Tensions have risen in Malaysia amid a threat by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to topple the government by next week and a racially charged uproar sparked by a Malay Muslim ruling party politician who accused the ethnic Chinese minority of hungering for power.

The Home Ministry has sent warning letters to two newspapers and an opposition publication about their recent coverage of political and racial issues, the Malaysiakini news portal reported. Media outlets operate under a government license that can be suspended at any time.

- AP

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