New Zealander still detained in Malaysia
A New Zealand woman detained in Malaysia is still yet to learn if she will be charged or deported, five days after being arrested at an environmental protest.
Natalie Lowrey and 15 Malaysian activists were arrested on Sunday outside the plant of Australian miner Lynas Corp in the eastern state of Pahang.
The group apparently broke through a police barricade while demonstrating against the plant, which they claim produces dangerous radioactive waste.
The Malaysians were released, but Ms Lowrey remains in a police cell while the public prosecutor decides whether to charge or deport her.
A police spokesman told AAP two charges were being considered.
She could be charged with ‘‘joining an illegal assembly knowing it has been commanded to disperse’’, which carries a penalty of up to two years in jail, or a fine, or both.
The other possible charge is a visa breach.
In a statement made through fellow activist Tully McIntyre, who has visited her cell, Ms Lowrey said she was driven to protest after spending time in the community around the Australian company’s plant.
The New Zealander, who works as a graphic designer in Bondi, slammed the company’s lack of transparency around waste management.
‘‘These people are really beautiful everyday people that are genuinely concerned about the plant’s operations and its management of waste,’’ she said.
A petition calling for Lowrey’s release had more than 12,000 signatures of support on Avaaz.org on Thursday.
It calls for Malaysia’s Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to allow her safe return to Australia immediately.
Ms Lowrey has legal representation and the assistance of the New Zealand embassy.
Lynas insists the plant is safe, saying any radioactive waste will be low-level and safely disposed of.
Rare earths is a term used to describe 18 metals which are vital in the production of smartphones, among other things.