Fairfax Sunday newspapersâ€™ decision this past weekend to publish references to US diplomatic cables (provided to them by Wikileaks) that speculated about the views of intelligence services about the veracity of â€œsodomyâ€ charges against Malaysian democracy campaigner Anwar Ibrahim could land him back in jail, his legal has warned today.
He is currently being tried in Malaysia on what are well-known internationally as trumped-up charges that he engaged in â€œsodomyâ€, a serious crime in the Muslim state. If convicted, as is widely presumed will occur regardless of the evidence and aided by Fairfaxâ€™s publication, Anwar could serve 20 years in prison.
Malaysian government-friendly newspapers swept on the Wikileaks/Sunday Age claims and repeated these views as fact. They directly quote the Fairfax press.
"Clearly it’s a case of sub-judice, it’s hearsay and conjecture, intelligence reports are not based on facts generally, they are based on rumours and I have served in the security services before so I know that the last thing you do is to trust such a report," said Nair.
"The judge must call up the newspapers and ask them to explain why they wrote the piece and to show their proof. If they can’t do this then they will be cited for contempt," he added.
"If this is not sinister then it is totally unethical reporting. I have advised my client to file a lawsuit against these papers as well."
When â€“ itâ€™s not if â€“ Anwar is convicted once again, Fairfax senior figures like the Sunday Ageâ€™s editor Gay Alcorn will have a lot of explaining to do.