KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers representing Saudi Arabian journalist Hamza Kashgari Mohamad Najeeb said today that there were no immigration records showing that the 23-year-old was deported prior to a court injunction preventing the government from doing so.

“We checked at the Subang airport immigration at between 2.15pm to 2.30pm and there were no immigration records of his deportation.

“At 3.15pm, we checked again at KLIA, there were no records,” lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri told reporters after proceedings in chambers with High Court judge Rohana Yusof who heard Kashgari’s habeas corpus application.

Fadiah said the injunction was granted on Sunday at 1.45pm. Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said yesterday that the authorities did not receive the court order.

The court today fixed next Wednesday (Feb 22) for hearing the application, in which the respondents (the government and police) are expected to make preliminary objections against the habeas corpus application.

According to Fadiah, lawyers for the respondents had today objected to the hearing on the grounds that it would be academic as Kashgari has already been deported.

“But we’re saying its not academic because it is a case of public interest. And if he was deported after the injunction was given, then it can amount to a contempt of court, and we’re looking at filing a case against the government if that is so,” said Fadiah.

The habeas corpus application was filed on Monday by lawyer K Ragunath and a team from Lawyers for Liberty, an NGO which Fadiah is a member of.

The NGO is questioning the legality of Kashgari’s arrest and deportation from Malaysia, and is seeking the court to declare those actions as unlawful.

The respondents are the Inspector-General of Police, Malaysian Immigration Director-General, Home Minister and the Malaysian government.

Senior Federal Council Amir Nasruddin and Federal Counsel Mohd Zain Ibrahim are acting for all four respondents.

New affidavit

Fadiah said they had filed a new affidavit to claim that they have been misled throughout his arrest and deportation by the respondents, in particular the Inspector-General of Police and the Home Minister.

“On Feb 10, the officer representing the police Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf told news agency AFP that Kashgari was arrested pursuant to a request by Interpol but on Feb 13, the Home Minister Hishammuddin said that there was no request by Interpol for deportation,” she said.

Fadiah also said authorities said Kashgari was arrested on Feb 9 on his arrival in Malaysia but checks showed Kashgari actually arrived two days earlier on Feb 7.

Fadiah also said that on Feb 12, Hishammuddin said that Kashgari was being deported according to the ‘long-standing arrangement’ with Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, but she said that there was no treaty or official documentation at all between the two countries.

“We checked, there are no treaties between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

“He came here to seek asylum, so according to international laws and human rights conventions, a country has the obligation to provide (and) to protect an individual who is fleeing his own country for fear of prosecution.

“Malaysia is bound by customary international law, this is based on the principle of non-refoulment,” said Fadiah, who said the lawyers may be looking at filing a case with the United Nations human rights body against the government.

Hamza is alleged to have insulted Islam and Prophet Muhammad through twitter and is said to be facing a trial and possible execution in his home country for his ‘blasphemous’ comments.

Kashgari had fled his country after his tweets triggered outrage in the hardline Islamic state. However, on the way to New Zealand, where he intended to seek asylum, he was reportedly detained in KLIA airport in Malaysia on Feb 9.

Many called for his head after he supposedly insulted the Prophet Muhammad; which is considered blasphemous in Islam and is also a crime punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of Islamic syariah law.

It is not a capital crime in Malaysia.

‘I will not pray to you”

Kashgari had supposedly tweeted, among others: “I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don’t understand about you. I will not pray for you.”

He was deported from Malaysia on Sunday afternoon, reportedly just hours before his lawyers here managed to obtain a court order to stop him from being send back to Saudi Arabia.

That fact is now, however, being questioned.

Kashgari, according to reports, will now probably face charges of blasphemy and, human rights organisations fear, execution in his home country, where the religious authority declared him an apostate.

Teoh El Sen | February 14, 2012

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