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Blogger held over royalty insult

06 July 2012, 16:07

 Kuala Lumpur - Malaysian authorities have detained a blogger for allegedly insulting one of the country's royals, police said on Friday.

Syed Abdullah Syed Hussein al-Attas was detained late on Wednesday at a toll station in central Negeri Sembilan state after police reports were filed against him for allegedly insulting the sultan of southern Johor state in his postings.

Malaysia's royals, though their role is mostly ceremonial, are widely revered especially among the Muslim Malay majority, and it is a crime to insult them.

Johor police said in a statement that Syed Abdullah, who was detained together with a 26-year-old woman, was being investigated under the Official Secrets Act for revealing secret information.

Police have obtained a court order to hold him until Sunday and may seek to extend the detention, an official said on Friday, without elaborating.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

Syed Abdullah, 46, blogs under the name "Uncle Seekers" and is reportedly a paranormal practitioner.

Reporters without borders

Rights group Reporters Without Borders has condemned Syed Abdullah's arrest, saying it was "very disturbed" by it.

"Syed Abdullah's arrest is unacceptable," the Paris-based group said in a statement on Thursday.

"Government officials should not, under any circumstances, be able to use state secrets as a pretext for putting themselves above the law and flouting the fundamental right to information," it added.

Under a government pledge to allow uncensored online content, the web and online media in Malaysia have remained relatively free despite occasional raids, bans and criticism from the government.

Major newspapers and broadcasters are closely linked with the ruling coalition, so the internet has become a lively forum for dissent and debate.

Malaysia has nine sultans, who are the royal rulers and guardians of Islam in their respective states. Under a unique rotating monarchy, they each take turns to rule for five years as the nation's king.



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