KUALA LUMPUR–Authorities detained and planned to deport an Australian senator who flew into Malaysia on Saturday to highlight his concerns about upcoming elections.
The independent senator, Nick Xenophon, has criticized Malaysia’s government ahead of national polls that must be held in this Southeast Asian nation before the end of June.
The South Australia state senator had planned to meet next week with Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as well as a Cabinet minister and electoral activists to discuss Malaysian polling transparency issues.
Hisan Hamzah, the police chief of Malaysia’s central Selangor state, told The Associated Press that Xenophon was taken into custody when he arrived at the airport early Saturday and denied entry “for security reasons.” He declined to elaborate, but confirmed that Xenophon would be put on a plane to Melbourne on Saturday night.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr called for Xenophon’s immediate release, saying his detention “is a surprising and disappointing act from a country with which Australia routinely maintains strong diplomatic relations.”