Poloff met with one of Raja Petra's lead lawyers on April 23. The lawyer disclosed that following Raja Petra's last appearance in court in February Raja Petra's legal team concluded their client would be found guilty and imprisoned under the sedition charges, and informed Raja Petra accordingly. The lawyer claimed that the ruling coalition's political influence over the court proceedings precluded a fair trail.
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
C O N F I D E N T I A L KUALA LUMPUR 000323
FOR EAP/MTS AND DRL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/29/2019
TAGS: PHUM, PINS, PGOV, KJUS, KDEM, UK, MY
SUBJECT: PROMINENT BLOGGER FLEES SEDITION TRIAL
REF: A. 08 KL 990 - RAJA PETRA RELEASED FROM ISA
B. 08 KL 846 - UPDATE ON RAJA PETRA DETENTION
C. 08 KL 806 - JOURNALIST DETAINED UNDER ISA
Classified By: Political Counselor Mark D. Clark for reasons 1.4 (b and d).
Summary and Comment
1. (C) Prominent blogger and government critic Raja Petra Kamarudin, who was jailed for two months in 2008 under the Internal Security Act (ISA), failed to appear for his sedition trail on April 23, and the court subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest. A member of his defense team informed poloff that Raja Petra, along with his wife, fled to the United Kingdom about two months ago on the belief that he would face eventual imprisonment for sedition.
2. (SBU) Comment: Raja Petra, Malaysia's most controversial on-line voice, will continue to be a nuisance to Prime Minister Najib's administration. Not expecting to return to Malaysia anytime soon, we can expect Raja Petra to ratchet up his criticism and purported exposes during his self-imposed exile. End Summary and Comment.
Where is Raja Petra?
3. (SBU) Raja Petra Kamarudin, an outspoken blogger and member of the Selangor state royal family failed to appear at Sessions Court for the continuation of his sedition trial on April 23. The court subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest. Raja Petra faced charges under the Sedition Act for articles he posted on his website, Malaysia Today, regarding the high-profile Altantuya murder case and the victim's alleged ties to Prime Minister Najib and his wife. If convicted of sedition, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail.
4. (U) On April 23, Raja Petra posted on his website his reasons for not appearing in court. He claimed Malaysian authorities intended to detain him under the ISA, as the Government had done in September 2008 (ref A-C). He also stated the courts were unable to provide him with a fair trial and noted the government was using sedition charges and criminal defamation charges, in addition to detaining him under ISA, for linking the Prime Minister to the murdered Mongolian national Altantuya.
Raja Petra also mentioned that he had angered the Selangor royal family with his criticism of the Sultan of Perak related to the ruling coalition's takeover of Perak state government from the opposition, and therefore could not return to Selangor.
Lawyer Confirms Departure for UK
5. (C) Poloff met with one of Raja Petra's lead lawyers on April 23. The lawyer disclosed that following Raja Petra's last appearance in court in February Raja Petra's legal team concluded their client would be found guilty and imprisoned under the sedition charges, and informed Raja Petra accordingly. The lawyer claimed that the ruling coalition's political influence over the court proceedings precluded a fair trail.
He said that Raja Petra, who holds both Malaysian and British passports, along with his wife had left for the UK some two months ago and remained there. His departure was kept closely guarded with Raja Petra's closest friends remaining in the dark.
The lawyer said it was unclear if the Attorney General's Office realized Raja Petra had left Malaysia, as the prosecutor's public statements indicated he was still in the country. After the court's issuance of an arrest warrant for Raja Petra, and a "show cause notice" for his wife as bail guarantor, some on-line articles suggested Raja Petra was in the UK.