‘Journalism is not a crime’: Al Jazeera condemns authorities for raiding KL bureau

Al Jazeera logo (left) together with the Malaysian police badge (right). Photos: Aljazeera and Friends of PDRM /Facebook
Al Jazeera logo (left) together with the Malaysian police badge (right). Photos: Aljazeera and Friends of PDRM /Facebook

International news network Al Jazeera has condemned the Malaysian authorities for raiding its office in Kuala Lumpur, calling it an attack on press freedom. 

The news media company also continued to defend its employees behind the Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown documentary, which was criticized by the Malaysian government for being “misleading” before going on to probe Al Jazeera’s licensing even though existing rules did not require it for the production of that documentary. 

“Al Jazeera views this not only as an attack on itself but on press freedom as a whole,” a statement issued by Al Jazeera said, hours after the raid. Two computers were seized from its office. 

“Our staff did their jobs and they’ve got nothing to answer for or apologize for. Journalism is not a crime,” it added. 

Under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the government also considers the 26-minute documentary shedding light on the lives of migrant workers on lockdown in Malaysia due to COVID-19 as “offensive.”

Yesterday, both the police and officers from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission raided Al Jazeera’s office in Kuala Lumpur’s Jalan Tun Razak as well as that of Astro and UnifiTV, television networks broadcasting Al Jazeera’s news channel. 

“All items seized from the raids will be sent to MCMC for further investigations,” criminal investigations director Huzir Mohamed told reporters about yesterday’s raids in a press conference.

“Our actions are based on the law,” Huzir continued. “No individuals or entities can escape the police when they’ve clearly violated Malaysia’s laws.”

The raids took place after police on July 25 arrested Mohamad Rayhan Kabir, a migrant worker from Bangladesh who was featured in the documentary. He is currently awaiting deportation by the immigration department.

The Communications and Multimedia Ministry had also threatened to revoke Al Jazeera’s accreditation amid the probe into its licensing. 

Last month, satellite TV provider Astro was slapped with a RM4,000 (US$940) fine for airing in 2015 an Al Jazeera documentary on the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Other stories to check out:

Astro slapped with RM4,000 fine for ‘offensive’ 2015 docu on Altantuya’s murder

Probe into Al Jazeera undermines freedom of speech: CIJ

Keyboard warriors in online war with Al Jazeera over COVID-19 documentary

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