KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's police chief insisted yesterday that investigations into an Al Jazeera documentary are being conducted "professionally" and rejected concerns about worsening media freedom, a day after the broadcaster's office was searched.
The authorities are investigating the news network's programme "Locked up in Malaysia's Lockdown", after the government was angered by its critical look at the treatment of migrant workers amid Covid-19.
Officials on Tuesday searched the Qatar-based broadcaster's Kuala Lumpur office and seized two computers, sparking fresh anger from Al Jazeera and rights groups, and adding to concerns about media independence in Malaysia.
But the country's Inspector-General of Police Hamid Bador said the search by police and communications ministry officials was carried out "very professionally".
"It was not a military kind of action taken by the police," he told Agence France-Presse in an interview.
He added that Al Jazeera staff were "informed earlier of our intent to be there. They were even asked which devices were used. They cooperated".
Seven Al Jazeera journalists were questioned by police last month in connection with the documentary. Malaysia insists the documentary - which focused on alleged mistreatment of migrants when they were rounded up in May - tarnished the country's image. The authorities say the round-up was necessary to protect the public from the virus. Al Jazeera is being probed for alleged sedition, defamation and transmitting offensive content, but it has stood by the documentary and insists the reporting was impartial.
Meanwhile, Malaysia's Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the raid has not affected bilateral ties.
"We have not received any report on the act (of raiding Al Jazeera's office), it has not affected our ties with any country," he told Parliament yesterday.