KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — News agency Al Jazeera has condemned the raid by authorities against its bureau office in the capital here earlier today, saying such a move was an escalation in Putrajaya’s intimidation of journalists.
The agency through a statement revealed that two computers were seized by authorities following the raids, adding how it is “gravely concerned” over the alleged offences its staff are being investigated for.
“Conducting a raid on our office and seizing computers is a troubling escalation in the authorities’ crackdown on media freedom and shows the lengths they are prepared to take to try to intimidate journalists,” its managing director Giles Trendle said.
“Our staff did their jobs and they’ve got nothing to answer for or apologise for. Journalism is not a crime,” Trendle added.
The Qatar-based press said it will stand by its journalists and their reports, following public backlash they were subjected to after the release of the 101East documentary titled Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown.
After having recorded the statements of at least seven Al Jazeera staff on July 10, the police today, accompanied by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), raided the agency’s office in Level 27 of GTower, near the iconic Petronas Twin Towers at around 11.30am.
This after the 25-minute documentary posted on YouTube on June 3 had depicted alleged mistreatment by Malaysian authorities against undocumented migrant workers here, claiming mass arrests were made during the movement control order.
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.
Md Rayhan Kabir, a Bangladeshi national featured on the production subsequently had his work permit revoked, is set to be deported and is barred from ever re-entering Malaysia.
The Doha-based agency, who stressed that its productions are done with professionalism, quality, and impartiality, then called for media freedom to be upheld in Malaysia.
“In a world in which the media face increasing threats, Al Jazeera calls for media freedom and the right to report freely without intimidation,” it said.