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June 30, 2008

Malaysia pressures Turkish envoy over giving refuge to Anwar
Malaysia will press the Turkish ambassador to reconsider his decision to give refuge to opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim, who has said he fears for his life, reported AFP.

Anwar fled to the embassy on Sunday after denying allegations he sodomised a male aide, the same charge that saw him jailed a decade ago.

"I have been told that my assassination has not been ruled out as a means to subvert the people's will and bring an end to the transformational changes taking place in Malaysia," he said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said ambassador Barlas Ozener will have to explain why he gave refuge to Anwar in a meeting at the ministry scheduled for Monday, the Star daily reported.

"We will ask the ambassador to reconsider (giving Anwar refuge) as it is meddling in Malaysia's internal affairs," Rais told the paper.

"If (Anwar) is evading any sort of preventive law like the (Internal Security Act), then it is a different matter," he added. "But he is being sought for an investigation involving sodomy, which is a crime under the penal code," Rais said.

"When you run away from the law, it is not the same as facing some political persecution. As such, the embassy cannot grant him any sort of protection."

Anwar, a friend of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took refuge on the invitation of the ambassador. Anwar has denounced as a "complete fabrication" a police report allegedly lodged by the 23-year-old aide, saying it was an attempt to sideline his spectacular return to the political stage.

His opposition alliance seized a third of parliamentary seats and five states in March elections that threaten to unseat Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who faces calls to quit over the polls debacle.

Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 and convicted on sodomy and corruption charges which he said were politically motivated. He spent six years in jail but was released in 2004 when the sex charge was overturned.

"I believe we are witnessing a repeat of the methods used against me in 1998 when false allegations were made under duress," Anwar said on the weekend. The new sex charges triggered fears that Anwar faced imminent arrest, but police said they would first carry out an investigation.

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