Nurul Izzah Anwar, lawmaker and vice president of the People's Justice Party, speaks to protesters as they gather to demand the freedom of her father Anwar Ibrahim in Kuala Lumpur on March 7, 2015
Vincent Thian—AP
By Helen Regan
March 17, 2015

Nurul Izzah Anwar, a Malaysian lawmaker and the eldest daughter of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, was released Tuesday after being arrested under the colonial era charge of “sedition.”

According to the Straits Times, Nurul Izzah, 34, was freed on bail after making a statement.

Nurul Izzah, the vice president of the People’s Justice Party, had voluntarily gone to the police on Monday to answer questions over an opposition rally, but was detained for a parliamentary speech she made last week, in which she criticized the conviction of her father, who was sentenced to five years imprisonment for sodomy last month, reports the BBC.

Anwar, 67, denies all charges, which have been slammed by human rights groups as politically motivated.

In the speech, Nurul Izzah read out a statement written by her father that questioned the independence of Malaysia’s judiciary.

The Southeast Asian country has parliamentary privilege and so normally lawmakers are not liable for criminal or civil actions over what they say in the house.

Critics slammed Nurul Izzah’s arrest as the latest attempt by the government to stifle dissent.

Prime Minister Najib Razak had promised to scrap the much maligned Sedition Act after protests in 2012. But last year he reneged on the pledge and since then a growing number of politicians and government critics have been investigated or charged under the antiquated law.

Nurul Izzah’s mother, who is also president of her People’s Justice Party, gave thanks on Twitter for her release.


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