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Lawyer for Malaysia opposition leader charged with sedition

[JURIST] The lawyer representing Anwar Ibrahim [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the leader of Malaysia's strongest governmental opposition group [party website, in Malay], was charged [Malaysia Star report, in English] with sedition on Tuesday because of a written statement he issued acting as Anwar's legal counsel. N Suredran, was released on bail after being charged with violating Malaysia's Sedition Act [text, pdf]. Suredran, currently representing Anwar in his appeal against sodomy charges, submitted a written statement suggesting that the sodomy charges against Anwar are an attempt to undermine Anwar's political coalition, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, which prevented the current ruling party [official website, in English] from obtaining a two-thirds parliamentary majority in last year's elections. Malaysia's current prime minister, Najib Razak [JURIST news archive], denies any conspiracy to weaken Anwar's party and claims he plans to abolish the Sedition Act, which prohibits "bring[ing] into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any Ruler or against any Government."

Suredran's and Anwar's current legal drama heightened in March when a Malaysian court overturned [JURIST report] Anwar's acquittal of sodomy charges and sentenced him to five years in prison. Surendran's resulting sedition charge is based on a 1948 law that Prime Minister Najib Razak announced [JURIST report] in 2012 he would repeal to protect freedom of speech in the country, a proclamation the UN responded [JURIST report] to with praise. Anwar was acquitted [JURIST report] in January 2010 of charges that he sodomized a former male political aide, charges he had consistently argued were politically motivated. Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia and was found [JURIST This Day at Law] to be compatible with Malaysia's constitution in January 2010.

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