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Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Edge and owner Datuk Tong Kooi Ong warned by Home Ministry that publishing permits can be revoked

The Edge warned over reporting ‘tampered’ information on 1MDB

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi warns The Edge that the Home Ministry can revoke publishing permits for reporting 'false information' surrounding 1MDB. – The Malaysian Insider filepic, June 24, 2015.Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi warns The Edge that the Home Ministry can revoke publishing permits for reporting 'false information' surrounding 1MDB. – The Malaysian Insider filepic, June 24, 2015.
The Edge and its owner Datuk Tong Kooi Ong have been warned by the Home Ministry that publishing permits issued to the media group can be revoked over reportage of news concerning 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), since leaked information on the state-owned strategic investor might have been tampered with.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in a statement tonight that The Edge and Tong had to take responsibility for reporting inaccurate news and factual errors.
The statement follows news that a former PetroSaudi International employee had been arrested for alleged blackmail and fabrication of information leaked to UK-based website Sarawak Report.
Zahid said Sarawak Report had been the prime source of "false information" which was subsequently republished by The Edge and other media outlets.
"The Edge should confirm the facts first before writing reports.
"Such false reports can tarnish journalistic ethics and the ministry can cancel or retract publishing permits," he said.
"The ministry has been made to understand that based on forensic investigations, a portion of the emails and documents that were published in the blog (Sarawak Report) were tampered after being stolen from PetroSaudi.
"Data stolen was incomplete and had undergone an editing process that was done professionally after being extracted from PetroSaudi's system with the intention of attacking and tarnishing the image of the organisation and certain individuals," Zahid said.
Zahid's statement follows developments since Monday, when Thai police arrested Xavier Andre Justo, a former executive with PetroSaudi, in Koh Samui.
Computers, hard drives and other data storage devices were seized during his arrest.
Justo was reported to have been paid some RM15 million to leave PetroSaudi and is now accused of asking for more money in an attempt to blackmail the oil company over its deals with 1MDB.
Thai media reported that Justo has denied this.
Thai police had also described Justo as an IT executive, but checks on company information available online showed that he had been a director.
After Thai media reported Justo's arrest yesterday, PetroSaudi issued a statement last night to say that it was "relieved" and that the company had been made victim of a "regrettable crime that has unfortunately been politicised in Malaysia".
Today, Malaysian pro-government newspaper the New Straits Times (NST) also carried a report stating that documents leaked on 1MDB's 2009 business deal with PetroSaudi had been edited before they appeared on the Sarawak Report website.
NST quoted an unnamed source from international cyber security firm Protection Group International (PGI).
1MDB also issued a statement today to note that initial investigations surrounding Justo's arrest showed that some leaked emails had been tampered with.
Zahid in his statement said he "welcomed" the news about Justo's arrest and said the Home Ministry will work with relevant authorities across borders to aid in investigations.
"The ministry has been informed that Xavier Justo is the individual who has spread inaccurate information to the blog Sarawak Report, which had made baseless allegations against 1MDB," Zahid said.
Sarawak Report has published a series of documents regarding the PetroSaudi-1MDB joint venture in 2009, which raised questions about 1MDB's dealings and also the involvement of Malaysian tycoon Low Taek Jho.
The Malaysian Insider is part of the The Edge Media Group which publishes The Edge. – June 24, 2015.

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