US reiterates disappointment with Anwar conviction in response to petition

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The United States has reiterated its disappointment with the upheld sodomy conviction of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in response to a petition calling for his release.

"The United States is deeply disappointed with Mr Anwar's conviction following a government appeal of the original verdict finding him not guilty," the White House said in a statement on Friday. It added that they have made this stand clear through statements and interactions with the Malaysian government.

"The initial decision to prosecute Mr. Anwar, the decision to appeal the not guilty verdict, and the overturning of that verdict raise a number of serious concerns about the rule of law and the fairness of the judicial system in Malaysia," the White House said.

The statement came after the close of a petition urging for Anwar's release, launched by former US ambassador to Malaysia John Malott. The petition drew 113,806 signatures, more than the 100,000 needed for an official response from the Obama administration.

Given the strong "comprehensive partnership" between the US and Malaysia, the White House reiterated its commitment to expanding cooperation on shared economic and security challenges affecting the two countries' interests in Asia and globally.

However, Washington urged the Malaysia government to apply the rule of law fairly, transparently, and apolitically.

"History has shown that countries that uphold the human rights of all their citizens -regardless of their political affiliation, ethnicity, race, religion, or sexual orientation - are ultimately more prosperous and more stable," the statement said.