Malaysia Detains, Deports Australian Senator Nick Xenophon for Being a Security Risk

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By Vittorio Hernandez | February 17, 2013 2:00 PM EST

Malaysia detained and deported Australian independent Senator Nick Xenophon over the weekend. Authorities cited his being a security risk as the reason behind their action against the senator.

Mr Xenophon led a group of Australians MPs for a series of meetings with Malaysian Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim over the country's electorial system.

The senator said he was first taken to an interrogation room which has holding cells and prisoners. He was information of the reason behind the immediate deportation, which Mr Xenophon said was laughable and tragic.

Malaysian Immigration Director-General Datuk Alias Ahmad said the deportation was in line with Section 8(3) of Malaysia's Immigration Act 1959/63 that covers prohibited immigrant.

"Xenophon has entered Malaysia for a couple of times before and he had participated in illegal activities which violated Malaysian law," Mr Alias was quoted by the New Strait Times.

The senator arrived at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang at 6:50 a.m. on Saturday from Melbourne and was immediately informed that he was banned from entering the country. Mr Alias denied that the senator was detained but was only kept at the airport's waiting room for his flight back to Melbourne.

He insisted that Mr Xenophon was treated only as a prohibited immigrant and not as a criminal and was even allowed to call the Australian embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

"I was eventually told apologetically by immigration officials that I am on a watchlist, that there are orders from above in terms of security concerns and I have to be deported on the next flight out of here," Sky News quoted the senator.

But Mr Xenophon said the incident would not likely destroy Australia's relation with Malaysia.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed disappointment with the senator's deportation but said she is glad he is back, safe and well.

Senator Bob Carr, Australia's foreign minister said he was surprised and disappointed about Malaysia's action since KL and Canberra have strong diplomatic relations.

However, unlike fellow MP Craig Thomson who was arrested over fund misuse charges, the senator was apparently not subjected to a strip search.

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