The Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom (AJF) urges the Malaysian Government to desist its current investigation of Al Jazeera English (AJE), as the current methods of investigation are an attack on free, independent journalism.
If the Malaysian Government takes issue with Al Jazeera’s work – or any reporting – there are appropriate complaint mechanisms within a democracy to pursue this. The government can complain to the network itself, demand a right of reply, publicly criticize (as has already been done) or go through domestic complaints processes.
To regard this report as an act of sedition or criminal defamation, however, without providing any supporting evidence, and to then send the police into the AJE offices, is a misguided attack on Malaysia’s democracy.
Peter Greste, AJF Spokesperson and Director, states:
“Investigating the report as an act of sedition is absurd. As far as we can see there was and has been no attempt by these journalists to overthrow the government.
“Most viewers saw a report that turned out to be critical of government policy. In a democracy, this can be the outcome of a free press.
“It is in the best interests of the entire region to maintain support of institutions fundamental to democracy. A free and independent media is one of these key institutions.
“We see this mistake time and time again. There is a marked difference between and acts of sedition, and journalistic work in the public interest and that may be critical of government policy. To conflate them is simply dangerous.”
Watch AJF spokesperson, Peter Greste, discussing the issue when it first occurred on ABC’s 730 here.
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