A top envoy from the Malaysian embassy in Washington was summoned to the US State Department over the sodomy charges filed against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Ilango Karuppannan, the charge d’affaires of the Malaysian embassy, met with State Department officials on Wednesday, before charges were filed against Anwar in Kuala Lumpur.
The department confirmed that a meeting took place with the envoy over Anwar’s case and other issues but did not provide details.
“We have regular exchanges with Malaysian diplomats in Washington on a number of subjects, including with the Malaysian charge (d’affaires) yesterday,” the department official said.
“Anwar Ibrahim’s case was one of the topics of conversation.”
The US actions may further infuriate the Malaysian government.
Kuala Lumpur accused Washington of meddling in its internal affairs when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month raised concerns over the investigation into the claims against Anwar.
Anwar was accused of sodomising 23-year-old aide Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan on June 26.
Sodomy, even between consenting adults, is illegal and carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.
Charges ‘politically motivated’
Anwar was released on bail yesterday after pleading not guilty to sodomy charges ahead of a by-election expected to return him to Parliament this month.
“We take note of the many serious questions raised within Malaysia, including by the Malaysian Bar Council, concerning this case,” a State Department official told AFP.
The former deputy premier, jailed a decade ago on similar charges that were later overturned, has said the new allegations have been concocted by the government to prevent him from seizing power.
Human rights watchdogs also felt the charges were politically motivated, with the Bar Council, a lawyers group, raising a series of questions over the police investigation into the charges.
“We again urge Malaysian authorities to resolve the matter in a manner that builds confidence in the impartial rule of law and the proper functioning of democratic institutions in Malaysia,” said the State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity.