UK journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown has condemned Malaysia’s judiciary, alleging “political revenge” for her investigative reporting after a court sentenced her in absentia.
Rewcastle Brown, 64, is contesting a surprise conviction for criminal defamation of a Malaysian royal, which resulted in a two-year prison sentence handed down by a local magistrates court during a single-day hearing.
Her reporting focused on the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal, where billions of dollars were misappropriated from the Malaysian sovereign fund, implicating top officials including former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib was jailed in 2022 in connection with the scandal but maintains his innocence against multiple charges.
The court’s ruling accused Rewcastle Brown of defaming Malaysia’s former Queen Nur Zahirah in her book “The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose,” without prior notification or the opportunity to present a defense.
Asserting that the conviction was politically motivated and malicious, Rewcastle Brown emphasized the retaliation against her investigative journalism that exposed corruption at the highest levels of power.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the decision, describing it as “outrageous” and calling for the sentence to be revoked, citing the chilling effect on press freedom and the deterrence it poses to investigative reporting on official corruption.
Rewcastle Brown’s case underscores the challenges journalists face in Malaysia when reporting on sensitive issues and highlights the importance of defending press freedom worldwide.