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Malaysia court quashes ban on scandal-reporting media group
[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia's High Court on Monday quashed a publishing ban that had been imposed by the government on a media group over its aggressive reporting on financial irregularities linked to Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The government lashed out at critics following the revelation in July that Malaysian investigators had found that nearly US$700 million had been deposited into Najib's personal bank accounts.
The Edge Media Group had published a number of reports over the past year alleging fraud, mismanagement and misappropriation of funds from state-owned investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The Home Ministry suspended the publishing permits in July of The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly after the scandal erupted, saying their reports threatened "public order".
High Court Judge Asmabi Mohamad said Monday the Ministry's decision to revoke the permits was "tainted with illegality", according to local media reports.
In a statement, The Edge Media Group lauded the decision.
"It vindicates our position that the suspension was unfair and without justification," it said.
Questions continue to swirl around the whereabouts of hundreds of millions of dollars of money from 1MDB that allegedly went missing in complex overseas financial deals.
The government has called the transfers into najib accounts "political donations" from unidentified Middle Eastern sources but has refused to give details.
Najib and 1MDB strongly deny any wrongdoing.
Najib, who launched 1MDB in 2009 and remains chair of its advisory board, has called the allegations a "political conspiracy" to unseat him, but has not responded to repeated calls for answers on key accusations such as the exact nature and origin of the deposits to his accounts.
Najib recently sacked his deputy premier and attorney general, and made other personnel moves that have stalled investigations into the affair.
Investigations by authorities in several other countries, however, have been launched.