Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) has released a video that refutes claims by police that Four Corners journalists Linton Besser and Louie Eroglu breached any security cordon when questioning Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in Kuching last Saturday, 12 March
According to the video footage, Besser was trying to get close to PM Najib Razak to question him about corruption allegations, before he was promptly arrested by the police
“Hello Mr Prime Minister, it’s ABC Australia. I’m wondering if you could explain the hundreds of million in your account?” Besser asked, as Prime Minister Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak continued walking without giving away any expression.
“Hello, Mr Prime Minister, can you explain all the hundreds of million of dollars in your account? Mr Prime Minister?" Besser asked again, repeating himself.
It was at this point that a police stepped in to ask Besser who he was. This was the same police who was muttering "Apa ni" (What is this?) in the background a few seconds earlier.
Besser then explained that he was "just a journalist here for press conference".
Sarawak CID chief had claimed that the Australians were arrested because they had tried to approach PM Najib Razak "aggressively"
In a statement Sunday (13 March) morning, Sarawak CID chief Dev Kumar said the two Australians had crossed a security line and aggressively tried to approach Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who was on an official visit to the Darul Ehsan Mosque at Kampung Haji Baki.
"The incident occurred at about 8.35pm. Both of them were subsequently arrested for failing to comply with police instructions not to cross the security line," Kumar said
The duo was detained on Saturday (12 March) night for six hours before they were released the next morning. The police were mulling over the idea to press charges but the duo were deported to Singapore at the end.
ABC news director Gaven Morris told staff on Tuesday (March 15): “I’m very glad and relieved to be able to confirm that our colleagues Linton Besser and Louie Eroglu are now on a plane out of Malaysia. It was a rollercoaster night, with the Malaysian police first informing Louie and Linton they would be charged this morning, then a few hours later reversing that and telling them they would be allowed to leave the country.
“Linton and Louie are continuing their work, investigating the story they are working on for Four Corners. We look forward to seeing their full report in coming weeks. They will be home later this week."
“The ABC stands behind our journalists. They did nothing wrong in Kuching. They were doing journalism. This incident has demonstrated again why it is vital to defend media freedom, including the right to question authority.”
Besser and his camera operator, Louie Eroglu, were in Malaysia to investigate allegations of corruption and bribery linked to the killing of socialite Altantuya Shaariibuu: