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IFEX members welcome the release of blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who had been detained for nearly two months under Malaysia's draconian Internal Security Act (ISA).

A high court judge ordered his immediate release, saying that his detention was illegal and that the Home Minister had acted beyond his authority when he doled out the two-year jail sentence.

Raja Petra, a staunch government critic on his website "Malaysia Today", was arrested on 12 September under the ISA. He was later given a two-year jail sentence on the grounds that his political writings "ridiculed Islam" and represented a potential security threat by stirring ethnic tensions.

Malaysia's ISA allows for the detention without trial for two years, with indefinite extensions possible at the discretion of the Home Minister.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Raja Petra had been held in solitary confinement at Kamunting, a detention centre near Taiping in northern Perak state. His wife, Marina Lee, and colleagues kept "Malaysia Today" running while he was in detention.

Lee told Reporters Without Borders (RSF), "I cannot find the words to express my joy. I am eternally grateful to RSF for its support. We are going to continue fighting for the ISA's repeal, so that this law can no longer be used against my husband or anyone else."

The blogger still faces sedition and defamation charges for posting reports that linked Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife to the murder of a Mongolian woman. The Writers in Prison Committee (WIPC) of International PEN continues to call for these charges to be dropped. Messages of support can be sent to Raja Petra via his email at: labisman (@) yahoo.com

Malaysia continues to crack down on dissent. On 9 November riot police broke up a peaceful protest of demonstrators celebrating Raja Petra's release and the anniversary of free and fair elections, report the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) in Malaysia and RSF. Two journalists and a blogger were among two dozen people arrested and released the following day.

"The continuous use of force against people expressing their views on issues... is a demonstration of the intolerance for public criticism of the status quo," said CIJ.

Visit these links:
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29214
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/5qseaw
- IFJ: http://tinyurl.com/5a8t9m
- WiPC: http://tinyurl.com/5du85m
- RSF on rally: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98394/
- SEAPA and CIJ on rally: http://www.cijmalaysia.org/
(12 November 2008)

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