Several Al Jazeera journalists involved in a recent documentary about Malaysia’s treatment of undocumented workers during the coronavirus pandemic were questioned at the country’s police headquarters on Friday. The police have said they are investigating the staff about potential sedition, defamation and violation of the country’s Communications and Multimedia Act.
The short film on Al Jazeera’s 101 East documentary strand called, Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown, was broadcast on July 3, and investigated the plight of thousands of undocumented migrant workers arrested during raids in areas under tight lockdowns.
Malaysian officials and national television claimed the report was inaccurate, misleading and unfair. Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob called on Al Jazeera to apologise to Malaysians, adding that allegations of racism and discrimination against undocumented migrants were untrue.
Al Jazeera Media Network has strongly rejected the Malaysian allegations. Al Jazeera also said it has “grave concerns” about its staff in Malaysia who have faced abuse online, including death threats and disclosure of their personal details on social media.
It said the network was “concerned for the safety of those interviewed in the documentary who have also been subjected to abusive online harassment and hate speech”. Malaysia’s immigration department has since issued a search notice for a Bangladeshi national interviewed in the documentary.
Other journalists and activists have been questioned about their reporting in recent weeks.