Two members of the ABC’s Four Corners program have flown out of Malaysia after being detained overnight for questioning the Prime Minister Najib Razak about a corruption scandal.
Reporter Linton Besser and cameraman Louie Eroglu were to face charges of obstructing a public servant but were this morning told they would not be charged, and were later allowed to leave the country.
In a email to staff, ABC head of news Gaven Morris said: “I’m very glad and relieved to be able to confirm that our colleagues Linton Besser and Louie Eroglu are now on a plane out of Malaysia.
“It was a rollercoaster night, with the Malaysian police first informing Louie and Linton they would be charged this morning, then a few hours later, reversing that and telling them they would be allowed to leave the country.
The pair were orginally given the order to appear in court on Tuesday morning but their lawyer was then called by police three hours later and told no charges would be filed.
Over the weekend, Razak had been questioned by Besser who asked him as he approached a Mosque about why hundreds of millions of dollars had been deposited into his bank account.
According to ABC News, the pair were then surrounded by the Prime Minister’s security but then permitted to leave the site, before being arrested later and questioned for six hours.
Their passports were taken and later returned, but they were told not to leave the country while their case was investigated.
If the two had been found guilty of the charge they could have faced two years in prison.
“Linton and Louie are continuing their work, investigating the story they are working on for Four Corners. We look forward to seeing their full report in coming weeks. They will be home later this week,” said Morris.
“The ABC stands behind our journalists. They did nothing wrong in Kuching. They were doing journalism. This incident has demonstrated again why it is vital to defend media freedom, including the right to question authority.”