SEPANG, July 22 — French lawyer William Bourdon, detained earlier today at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), will “most likely” be deported tonight, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has said.

Suaram executive director Cynthia Gabriel (C) and Fadiah Nadwa Fikri (R) call Bourdon’s deportation “arbitrary”. — Picture by Yow Hong Chieh

Suaram executive director Cynthia Gabriel (C) and Fadiah Nadwa Fikri (R) call Bourdon’s deportation “arbitrary”. — Picture by Yow Hong Chieh

“The deportation process is underway and there is a high likelihood he will be sent back to Paris tonight,” Suaram executive director Cynthia Gabriel told reporters at KLIA here.

She had earlier spoken to Bourdon over the phone, who informed her of his deportation.

Bourdon, who flew in from Penang this morning, was escorted from the aircraft by three immigration officers and an auxiliary policeman at 11.40am and taken to the airport’s holding area, according to the human rights group.

He had attended a dinner in Penang last night where he briefed the audience on the progress of a judicial probe in France into the controversial RM7 billion Scorpene submarines that Malaysia bought from French defence company DCNS.

The purchase, made while Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak headed the defence ministry, has been linked by human rights groups and opposition parties to the 2006 murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shariibuu.

Gabriel, a lawyer, said Bourdon has not been told the reasons for his detainment and deportation, adding that there was no reason for immigration officers to board the flight from Penang prior to passenger disembarkation.

She said the details revealed by him at last night’s dinner were “nothing new” and that Bourdon had spoken only about the technical developments of Suaram’s case in France and the French judicial system.

“It was an irrational approach and a type of action which basically speaks of a government that is moving towards full dictatorship,” she said.

“It is a government with no consideration for openness, for transparency, and for the rights of individuals.”

Lawyers for Liberty campaign director Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, also a lawyer, conceded that the authorities had the right under the Immigration Act 1959/63 to deport Bourdon but questioned the Act’s “draconian” provisions.

She pointed out that Section 9(a) grants the Immigration director-general powers to deny entry, cancel permits and deport anyone without having to state why if he deems it expedient.

“Where is the due process? Why can’t you at least explain the reasons for denying entry (to Bourdon)?” she said.

“What is so prejudicial about William Bourdon being here? That is the question that we have to ask Najib to answer.”

Suaram has said its fundraising dinner in Kuala Lumpur tonight will go on despite the absence of its key speaker, and urged the public to attend.

By Yow Hong Chieh