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Malaysia Bans Asian Wall Street Journal for Three Months

September 26, 1986 GMT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ The government today banned the American-owned Asian Wall Street Journal for three months and expelled its two correspondents.

The Home Affairs Ministry said in a statement that the action was taken after a review of the newspaper’s articles, but did not single out any particular report for criticism.

It identified the correspondents ordered to leave as John Berthelsen and Raphael Pura.

Berthelsen, 48, of Sacramento, Calif., confirmed by telephone that he was told to leave within 48 hours. He declined further comment.

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The Asian Wall Street Journal’s editor and publisher, Fred Zimmerman, said by telephone from Hong Kong that he was informed of Berthelsen’s expulsion but not that of Pura, the paper’s Southeast Asia correspondent. Pura is on vacation in Hong Kong.

In a statement, Zimmerman called the banning ″unfair, unjustified and unwise″ and said, ″We are proud of the accuracy and integrity of our reporting from Malaysia.″

Zimmerman said the paper formally protested the banning and expulsions.

The daily, which is edited in Hong Kong and printed in Hong Kong and Singapore, is owned by Dow Jones & Co. of New York. It has circulated in Malaysia since September 1976 and sells about 3,000 copies daily.

The Home Affairs Ministry statement said it would take similar action against any publication that carried ″articles, statements or other writings which would undermine public order and morals, national security, ties with foireign governments, or (that) went against the country’s laws or threaten the public or national interest.″

Senior Malaysian officials privately have criticized Bethelsen’s reporting, claiming he has put the government in ″bad light.″

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad occasionally has criticized foreign reporters’ coverage of his country.

Malaysia routinely censors foreign publications and requires that copies of all foreign publications be submitted to the intelligence agency. If the agency considers an article unacceptable, it asks importers to remove the article from each issue of the publication.

The American newsmagazines Time and Newsweek and the Hong Kong-based newsmagazines Asia Week and Far Eastern Economic Review have been censored.″

Last year, Far Eastern Economic Review correspondent James Clad was charged with publishing official secrets. He pleaded guilty and was fined. He had written on relations between Malaysia and China.

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