Dr M: Government has right to repatriate Saudi

(The Malaysian Insider) – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pointed out today that it was the government’s right to repatriate a wanted Saudi Arabian blogger back to his home country despite the outrage sparked by Malaysia’s decision to send the man home.

But the former prime minister would not wade further into the controversy, saying he would have to study the case carefully before responding.

“Those who are detained will be surrendered to their countries.

“That’s the government’s right, I have nothing to do with it, I’m not the government now… nowadays, we want to make peace with many countries,” Dr Mahathir told reporters after a Perkim function this afternoon.

The authorities repatriated Hamza Kashgari, 23, back to Riyadh yesterday despite opposition from human rights groups here. Kashgari, who faces charges of blasphemy, was taken into custody immediately upon arrival.

Just before his departure from Malaysian shores however, lawyers here had managed to obtain an ex-parte interim order from the High Court, barring him from being sent home immediately.

In a copy of the order, obtained by The Malaysian Insider via email this afternoon, the court ordered that “any act of deportation against the applicant is suspended until Tuesday 14.2.2012 or until the completion of the final hearing of a habeas corpus application, of which the hearing date will be determined on 14.2.2012 at 9.30am”.

Speaking to reporters today, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein denied the existence of such an order and suggested that the claim was made up.

The Umno vice-president said he stood by the decision to repatriate Kashgari despite widespread criticism from international rights groups.

“I will not compromise. Do not look at Malaysia as a safe transit… do not think you can come in and out of Malaysia,” he said, adding that Malaysia was often seen as a safe haven for terrorists and individuals wanted by foreign authorities.

“He is a foreign national, he is wanted by his own country of origin,” said Hishammuddin.