Nathaniel Tan is a Malaysian blogger and as a politician a member of Parti Keadilan Rakyat ((Wikipedia | Parti Keadilan Rakyat)).
On July 13, 2007, Tan was detained by three plainclothes policemen, who requested that he bring his notebook and follow them to the Royal Malaysian Police’s headquarter in Bukit Aman. However, Tan’s lawyer later stated that according to Bukit Aman, there was no record of his detention. A police report was filed alleging Tan had been kidnapped.
Roughly six hours after Tan’s disappearance, Bukit Aman confirmed that they were holding the blogger. Shortly afterwards, Tan was transferred to a different police station. It was announced that he would appear before a magistrate the following day for further remand.
On July 14, Tan was remanded for four days by a magistrate, who rejected the police request for a 14-day remand order, the maximum permitted under the law ((Talk about paranoia | results)). The proceedings commenced before the arrival of his lawyers, who later alleged that the investigating police officers intentionally refrained from informing them about the proceedings, and that the court police had also misled the investigating officers about Tan’s lawyers’ whereabouts.
An investigating officer later confirmed that Tan was being investigated for a potential violation of section 8 of the Official Secrets Act, which pertains to “wrongful communication, etc. of [an] official secret”. Tan had reportedly published a comment on his blog alleging corruption on the part of Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharom. After Tan’s arrest, Johari announced that he had instructed the police to investigate “lies” published on the internet ((elizabeth wong | Nat Tan: Updates, questions and rant)).
One of Tan’s lawyers, R. Sivarasa, stated that the remand order was meant only to “put Nat under duress”. Citing the fact that several documents, CDs, and computers had been seized from Tan’s office, home and car, Sivarasa stated:
“If the remand is for investigation why continue to detain him, when he has given everything? This is a fishing expedition. There’s clearly another agenda behind this. … This is purely an act of oppression. I want to go on record (to say) this detention is politically motivated.”
On July 18, Tan was released on police bail, but was required to report back to the Commercial Crime Investigation Department in Kuala Lumpur on July 31.
After Tan’s detention, his parties leader Anwar Ibrahim condemned the arrest, and called for Tan’s family members and lawyers to be given access to him. Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang condemned “secretive circumstances in the first seven hours of Tan’s arrest”, calling them “a scandal which speaks of a police which has yet to fully accept that the first principle of policing in a democratic system must be policing for the people and not policing to serve the government leaders of the day”. Lim also suggested that Tan might be a “pawn” used by the police and government to “protect their vested interests”.
Other organisations that condemned Tan’s detention included the Malaysian Bar Council, the Centre for Independent Journalism and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The Sun condemned the circumstances surrounding Tan’s detention as “attempts at obstructing justice”, and called them “politically-motivated”.
In response to a question in Parliament from Lim about two months after Tan’s detention, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stated that “The arrest and the police report [filed against another blogger] are usual procedures followed by the police.”