(AFP) – Sep 23, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — Malaysia's most prominent blogger has been ordered to spend two years in detention under internal security laws after being accused of insulting Islam, his wife said Tuesday.
Raja Petra Kamaruddin, a government critic and founder of the Malaysia Today website, has been sent to the Kamunting detention centre in northern Perak state on the order of the home minister, his wife Marina Lee Abdullah told AFP.
His arrest earlier this month was part of a crackdown amid a political crisis in Malaysia, as Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi faces calls to quit from within his cabinet and a mounting challenge by the opposition.
"(Police) said my husband has been sent to Kamunting this morning and that he will remain there for two years with no trial. This is the worst news I can receive but we will keep fighting for his release," Marina said.
Raja Petra's lawyer Amarjit Sidhu said the government had pulled a "mean, dirty trick" by issuing the detention order the night before a scheduled court hearing on Tuesday to secure his release.
"The government can now hide behind a veil of secrecy because they do not have to disclose reasons for detaining him," he told AFP.
Raja Petra was detained under the tough Internal Security Act (ISA) for allegedly "insulting Islam and publishing articles on his website, which has tarnished the country's leadership to the point of causing confusion among the people," his wife said.
He was also accused of inciting hate in his articles on Islam -- a serious offence in predominantly Muslim Malaysia.
Raja Petra is best known for his articles on politics, and has already been charged with sedition and defamation for linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman.
Meanwhile, Samy Vellu, president of the Malaysian Indian Congress party, the third largest in the ruling National Front coalition, urged the government to free five activists held under the ISA since last December.
Samy met the prime minister Tuesday to discuss the releases amid mounting pressure for their freedom from within the Indian leader's party.
"We have full faith and trust in the prime minister and we believe that he will do something (positive) on this matter," he said.
The five, including a newly sworn-in state lawmaker, were held under the ISA after enraging the government in November by mounting a mass rally alleging discrimination against minority ethnic Indians.
Ethnic Indians make up less than eight percent of the 27 million people in the mainly Muslim-Malay country.
The ISA allows for renewable two-year periods of detention without trial and has been used to lock up government opponents in the past, although in recent times it has mostly been directed against suspected terrorists.
Raja Petra was rounded up earlier this month along with an opposition lawmaker and a journalist but the other two were quickly released.
Their arrests triggered the resignation of Zaid Ibrahim, a cabinet minister in charge of legal affairs, as well as calls from within the ruling coalition for the security law to be abolished.
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