Malaysian Opposition Leader Seeks RefugeBy Chad Bouchard
29 June 2008
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has taken refuge in the Turkish embassy amid allegations of sodomy, fueling political tensions that have been building since election in March. Chad Bouchard reports from Jakarta.
Malaysian police officer walks in front of the Turkish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29 Jun 2008Anwar Ibrahim sought refuge at the Turkish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur after a male aide told police he had been sodomized by the country's opposition leader.
Anwar dismissed the allegations as an attempt by the government to discredit him politically, calling the sex scandal a "complete fabrication". He fled to the embassy, saying he received anonymous death threats and feared for his safety, though he did not intend to seek political asylum.
The incident adds fuel to a growing political upheaval in Malaysia, following March elections in which the ruling party received their worst ever results.
Anwar has been leading a coalition of parties against the government and threatened to bring down the ruling party by September.
Anwar served as deputy prime minister and finance minister in the 1990s, but was forced out of his post in 1998 after another sex scandal and accusations he used his position to cover up the incident. He was convicted on two charges, but the country's highest court overturned the convictions.
Anwar has always denied the allegations, saying it had been a conspiracy to keep him from gaining political power. He had retreated from political life for more than a decade until his challenge to the government earlier this year.
The country's prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said his party had nothing to do with the accusations against Anwar. Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia and a conviction carries a prison term of up to 20 years.