SYDNEY – Two Australian journalists were arrested and barred from leaving Malaysia after attempting to question Prime Minister Najib Razak about a corruption scandal, national broadcaster ABC said Sunday.
The journalists, who work for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “Four Corners” investigative program, were detained in the Malaysian city of Kuching late Saturday before being released without charge, ABC reported.
“ABC 4Corners team arrested in Malaysia last night after trying to question PM Najib Razak over corruption scandal,” the program’s executive producer, Sally Neighbour, tweeted Sunday.
Reporter Linton Besser and camera operator Louie Eroglu had approached Najib on the street before their arrest, the broadcaster added.
Neighbour said their passports, which were initially seized, were returned to them but they “can’t leave Malaysia.”
Footage shared by the Sydney Morning Herald showed Besser asking questions at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur relating to the still-murky 2006 murder of a Mongolian woman.
There have been suspicions the woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was involved in negotiations involving the 2002 purchase of French submarines, was killed to silence her about the deal.
Two of Najib’s bodyguards were convicted of the murder and sentenced to death.
Najib, who was defense minister at the time, has denied involvement in the murder and said he did not know the woman.
Najib, 62, has been under fire for a year over allegations that billions of dollars were stolen from a state firm he founded, and over his own acceptance of a murky $681 million overseas payment. He denies wrongdoing.