Nick Xenophon Detained in Malaysia

16 February 2013

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The Age

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has been detained in Malaysia as a ”security threat” and is to be deported back to Australia within hours.

Senator Xenophon, who has raised serious concerns about the probity of the upcoming Malaysian elections, was stopped by immigration officials this morning on his arrival at Kuala Lumpur airport and told he was on a blacklist.

Senator Xenophon was in Malaysia leading a bipartisan visit of Australian politicians for talks with the country’s opposition party about electoral systems.

He has been highly critical of preparations for the election to be held later this year. In particular, he’s pointed to serious concerns about the integrity of the country’s election rolls.

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‘‘I am effectively a prisoner here. I’m being held in an area with all these holding cells which are full of women. They have basically told me I am an enemy of the state,’’ he told the Adelaide Sunday Mail.

‘‘They are trying to get me on the next plane out of here and back home.’’

NSW Senator John Williams, WA MP Mal Washer and South Australian MP Steve Gorganas were due to fly out Sunday night to join Senator Xenophon.

Senator Williams said he knew that Senator Xenophon had been travelling on his private passport and not his official one.

Senator Williams said he will wait until the dust settles to decide whether he will continue with his planned visit. He told Fairfax Media that Senator Xenophon might have been blacklisted after he was incorrectly quoted last year in the Malaysian paper The New Straits Times saying Islam was a cult.

He had said that the Church of Scientology was a cult not Islam. The newspaper later issued an apology acknowledging that Senator Xenophon did not make the comments.

A spokesman for his office said he had been informed he would be deported under the country’s security legislation.Senator Xenophon planned to stay in Malaysia until Tuesday, meeting election commission officials and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

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