KUALA LUMPUR, June 27:
Australian activist Natalie Lowrey, who was arrested on June 22, has been released from prison today.
Lowrey, an activist of the Friends of Earth non-governmental organisation, was arrested together with 15 other Malaysian activists, including Himpunan Hijau chief Wong Tack, by the Kuantan police during a protest against the rare earth plant Lynas in Gebeng, Pahang.
This had led to 34 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and groups to demand her release.
Her release was announced on Suara Rakyat Malaysia’s (SUARAM) Facebook fan page with a photo depicting a teary-eyed Lowrey speaking to a confidante after a status announcing her release.
“Just got news that Natalie Lowrey is now being released from Kuantan police station. Thanks to everyone for your solidarity support for the campaign to release Natalie,” the status read.
News portal Malaysiakini reported that the authorities had yet to determine if Lowrey would be charged in court.
“She was released today unconditionally on police bail. She will have her passport back and she can leave Malaysia or go anywhere she likes,” Kuantan police chief Assistant Commisioner Abdul Aziz Salleh was reported as saying.
The investigation was conducted under Section 145 of the Penal Code and Section 39B of the Immigration Act for allegedly overstaying.
However, Abdul Aziz said upon receiving advice from the deputy public prosecutor, no decision was made whether she would be charged as the police would have to further investigate her case.
He said if she was to be charged later, she would be required to return to Malaysia and stand trial.
Lowrey’s release comes after 34 NGOs, including SUARAM, Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER), Tenaganita, Center for Orang Asli Concerns, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), Himpunan Hijau, Gabungan NGO Pengerang, Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section, managed to collect 14,000 signatures through an international petition which was launched on June 23.
The petition was addressed to Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.