Malaysian opposition leader arrested

Police have arrested Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim outside his home, hours before he was due to face questioning over allegations that he sodomised a former male aide, lawyers said.


Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has been accused of sodomising a male aide, has been arrested outside his home, his lawyer said Wednesday.

"Anwar was arrested just five minutes ago. The police came and took him away," said lawyer Sankara Nair, who said he witnessed the arrest.

"He had just arrived home when about 10 officers detained him at the gate of his home," he told AFP.

Nair said the police did not specify what the opposition leader was being charged with, but that he would be taken to the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters.

Anwar's Keadilan party, which leads a three-member opposition alliance, issued an immediate call for his supporters to rally outside the headquarters in the city's downtown.

"Anwar has been detained by police while travelling to his home... All supporters are asked to gather" it said in a SMS text message.

The opposition leader had been about to appear at the police headquarters for an interrogation over sexual assault allegations by Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 23-year-old who was a volunteer in his office.

Earlier Wednesday he had dismissed the accusations as a conspiracy to prevent him from seizing power, and said it was a re-run of events a decade ago when he was sacked and jailed on sodomy and corruption charges.

"There's no basis for this whole fabrication and malicious attacks. It is just a repeat of the 1998 script. You can see the pattern," he told reporters. "I will challenge them on every ground."

Anwar was sacked as deputy premier in 1998 and subsequently jailed, triggering massive protests in a "Reformasi" or "Reform" movement that continues to reverberate in Malaysian politics.

Sodomy, even between consenting adults, is illegal in predominantly Muslim Malaysia and carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.

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