Turkish envoy summoned for giving Anwar Ibrahim refuge

June 30th, 2008 - 4:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, June 30 (IANS) Malaysia has objected to the Turkish embassy giving refuge to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, accused of sodomy, and summoned the ambassador to ask him to explain what amounted to “meddling” in its internal affairs. “We will ask the ambassador to reconsider (granting Anwar refuge) as it is meddling in Malaysia’s internal affairs,” said Foreign Minister Rais Yatim, adding that the government also wanted to know why Ibrahim had gone to that particular embassy.

Yatim said Ibrahim, who took refuge in the embassy on Sunday after denying a sodomy charge made by an aide as “totally fabricated”, was running away from law and did not qualify for any diplomatic protection.

“If he is evading any sort of preventive law like the ISA (Internal Security Act), then it is a different matter. But he is being sought for an investigation involving sodomy, which is a crime under the Penal Code,” the minister told The Star newspaper.

A large number of people perceived as a threat to security or having terror connections are interned under the ISA.

“When you run away from the law, it is not the same as facing some political persecution. As such, the embassy cannot grant him any sort of protection.”

Ibrahim released a statement Sunday, saying he was grateful to the ambassador, Barlas Ozener, for extending him an invitation to seek refuge within the embassy.

To this, Yatim said what the Turkish Embassy had done was “very questionable”. He added that the embassy should not be a hindrance to the investigation process.

He said Ibrahim could have resorted to such a measure in order to attract international attention to his situation, adding: “Knowing him, it is very possible that he wants to gain glaring attention.”

Ibrahim has filed a case against the youth, 23, identified as Mohammed Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who alleged that the leader had sodomised him last Thursday and that this was not the first time it had happened.

Media reports Monday said that Azlan was a university dropout and had political ambitions.

Ibrahim and his wife, parliament’s opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, have said Azlan was set up by the government for Ibrahim’s “political assassination”.

Wan Ismail released photographs of Azlan being seen with an aide in the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office at a press conference.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has expressed shock at the charge levelled against Ibrahim and said the government had not given instructions to the police or any agency.

Ibrahim faced the same charge a decade back when he was the deputy prime minister in prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s government. He was sacked and jailed and a prolonged prosecution followed.

Ibrahim has since staged a political comeback. In the general elections in March, his party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), did well at the head of an opposition alliance that for the first time emerged strong with 82 members in parliament.

Ibrahim has been saying that many lawmakers of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition are ready to cross over to his side and the Badawi government could fall in September.

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