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Australian government raises concerns over detained journalists in Malaysia

Two journalists have been detained after trying to report a story in Malaysia. The incident has led Australian authorities to voice their concerns about a possible crackdown on the media.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Monday she was worried about media censorship in Malaysia following the detention of two Australian broadcast journalists over the weekend.

Reporter Linton Besser and camera operator Louie Eroglu were on assignment in the Southeast Asian country when they were arrested after attempting to interview

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

on the street in the city of Kuching. They were released on Sunday, but were told they could not leave the country.

The fact that Besser and Eroglu were attempting to question the prime minister over corruption allegations has led Canberra to suggest that Malaysia is rolling back on civil liberties. Najib faced criticism after hundreds of millions of dollars were found to have been deposited into his account by what his critics insist was the state development fund he himself founded.

Crackdown on free speech

"I'm always concerned when there are instances of a crackdown on freedom of speech - in democracies particularly," Bishop said.

Besser and Eroglu's employer, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), also responded to the incident. "I'm also concerned about the freedom that journalists have to carry out their work," ABC said, according to German news agency DPA.

Bishop said she was addressing the incident with the Malaysian government.

blc/jm (dpa, AP)

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