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Saudi journalist who tweeted ‘blasphemous’ content deported from Malaysia

Zafar Anjum | Feb. 13, 2012
Hamza Kashgari faces criminal charges over Twitter remarks

Malaysia deported Saudi journalist, Hamza Kashgari, 23, to his home country on Sunday (12 Feb), according to media reports.

The journalist who had fled Saudi Arabia amid a furore over his tweets on the Prophet Mohammad was deported where he likely faces a charge of apostasy, which normally carries the death penalty, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

According to the report, Kashgari was handed over to Saudi officials in Kuala Lumpur. He had arrived in Malaysia on Thursday and was planning to fly to New Zealand.

In his tweets, the Jeddah-based columnist allegedly made disparaging comments against Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam. He had tweeted his doubts about the prophet's nature on his birthday. According to BBC, his controversial tweet last week sparked more than 30,000 responses and several death threats. Even though Kashgari apologised and deleted the tweets, the threats continued and that's when he decided to leave his home country.

BBC reported that Kashgari's lawyer had obtained an injunction on Sunday to allow him to stay in Malaysia until his case was heard, but it was too late.

Besides, international human rights groups had also urged Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation, not to surrender Kashgari to Saudi authorities. Amnesty International had warned that Kashgari could be executed in Saudi Arabia if he is found guilty of apostasy.

Malaysian authorities had apprehended the journalist based on an Interpol notice. The handing over of Kashgari was completed even though Malaysia does not have a formal extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia. However, the two countries have very good diplomatic relations. "The nature of the charges against the individual in this case are a matter for the Saudi Arabian authorities," Hishamuddin Hussein, Malaysia's Home Minister, said in a statement.


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