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WiPC protests detention of website editor

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee (WIPC) of International PEN protests the detention of Raja Petra Kamaruddin, founder and editor of the website Malaysia Today ( ), who was sentenced without trial to two years in prison on 22 September 2008 under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for his critical writings published online. The sentence can be renewed indefinitely. International PEN considers Kamaruddin to be detained in violation of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

According to International PEN's information, Raja Petra was arrested on 12 September 2008 for allegedly "insulting Islam" and publishing articles on his website which "tarnished the country's leadership to the point of causing confusion among the people." Raja Petra filed a habeas corpus application at the High Court in Kuala Lumpa on 16 September seeking his release from detention, but on 22 September, in a move thought to counteract his probable release, the Malaysian Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar signed an order to remand him in custody for up to two years under section 8 of the ISA. Remand orders under section 8 cannot be challenged in court and can only be ordered or overturned by a minister of the government. Two other jounalists have been arrested under the ISA in Malaysia in recent weeks, but were both released after a brief detention.

Raja Petra is being held at the Kamunting Detention Center in northern Perak state. On 23 September, his lawyers submitted another habeas corpus application to the Kuala Lumpur High Court to overturn his detention. A judge has ordered lawyers to make their submissions on the case by 28 October.

Raja Petra reportedly started the Malaysia Today website and his blog to facilitate open discussion on Malaysia's political and social scenes. In his online writings, he is known for his outspoken criticisms of the government and his advocacy of transparency, accountability and justice in the Malaysian political system.

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