Updated: 01/20/2014 11:21 | By Agence France-Presse

Malaysia's Anwar furious after Japan bars entry

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Monday he was barred entry to Japan, strongly protesting the "unwarranted" action as his party questioned whether the Malaysian government was behind the move.

Malaysia's Anwar furious after Japan bars entry

Malayisan opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim arrives at the first parliamentary session after the May 5 general elections at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur on June 25, 2013 - by Ahmad Yusni

Anwar said he arrived at Narita International Airport on a personal visit early Sunday and was told by immigration authorities he was barred because of his 1999 conviction for sodomy and corruption.

The conviction, which cast the then-rising political star out of Malaysia's longtime ruling party and into jail for six years, remains highly controversial and is viewed by many as a frame-up by Anwar's enemies.

"I protest in the strongest terms this unwarranted action of the Japanese government in refusing me entry and denying my legitimate rights to travel freely without let or hindrance," Anwar said in a blog post.

"It is indeed inconceivable for one of the world’s leading democracies to take this unprecedented action under such tenuous grounds and leaves me with the impression that hidden hands may be at work here."

Anwar said he told Japanese immigration officials he had visited Japan on three occasions since 2006, but they replied vaguely that they were responding to a more recent "report".

"The barring of Anwar Ibrahim from entering Japan raises serious questions on the involvement of this (the Malaysian) government," Anwar's People's Justice Party said in a statement.

Neither Anwar nor Malaysia's foreign ministry were immediately available for comment.

Anwar said Japanese embassy officials in Malaysia had told him before the trip that there would be no problem entering the country.

Embassy officials told AFP they were awaiting advice from Tokyo before making any comment.

The opposition accuses the Malaysian government -- which has steadily lost ground in parliament since Anwar took the opposition's helm -- of a long-running campaign of harassment and false charges designed to detail his political comeback.

Shortly after a historic strong showing by the opposition in 2008, Anwar faced new charges of illicit sex with a former male aide. Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

A court acquitted Anwar in 2012 but the government is appealing the decision.

Later in 2012 he was accused of illegal assembly over an anti-government protest, but a court dismissed those charges earlier this month.

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