Detained Australian journalists leave Malaysia without facing charges

Two Australian journalists on Tuesday left Malaysia after being detained for trying to question Prime Minister Najib Razak over corruption allegations, officials said.

Reporter Lindon Besser and cameraman Louie Eroglu, both from Australian national broadcaster ABC, were arrested in Kuching on Saturday after police said they crossed a security line while approaching the premier.

"No charges will be filed against the two," Sarawak police criminal investigation chief Dev Kumar said earlier Tuesday. "Instead they will be deported immediately."

Police and immigration officials escorted them to Kuching International Airport where they took a flight to Australia via Singapore, Kumar later told dpa.

The pair did not comment on their detention, but Besser told reporters on the way to the plane that he would like to come back to Kuching with his family for vacation someday.

"If they come back as tourists then there is no problem,” Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed told reporters outside parliament in Kuala Lumpur. But they will have to obtain permits if they wanted to work in the country again, he said.

"One of the reasons they were deported from Sarawak was because they said they were journalists,” Nur jazlan added. "If they want to perform duties as journalists they have to apply for a specific work permit to work in Sarawak."

The two had been told Monday night they would be charged with obstructing a public servant in the discharge of his duty and faced a prison sentence of up to two years, ABC reported.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Monday she raised the issue "at the appropriate level within the Malaysian government," according to The Australian newspaper.

Najib has been facing calls for resignation including from within the ruling party United Malays National Organization following a Wall Street Journal report in July last year that 673 million dollars had found its way into the premier’s private bank accounts.

The US-based newspaper suggested the money was connected to the state development fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Last update: Tue, 15/03/2016 - 11:26

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