The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the government to drop all criminal charges against cartoonist Zunar and cease harassing him for his work.
This was after Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, was arrested for sedition last Saturday.
It came a day after a group led by Penang Umno Youth chief Rafizal Abd Rahim thrashed Zunar's exhibition of cartoons critical of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
"Rather than arresting and threatening one of Malaysia's most prominent cartoonists, the authorities should instead identify and prosecute those responsible for this crude and egregious attack on press freedom.
"The government's harassment of Zunar has reached dangerous proportions. It should stop immediately," CPJ's senior South-East Asia representative Shawn Crispin said today.
Zunar, a recipient of CPJ's International Press Freedom Award in 2015, was on Sunday released on bail.
CPJ said its research showed Najib had used the Sedition Act 1948 to stifle critical reporting on the 1MDB scandal.
Long pattern of harassment
Meanwhile, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also condemned Zunar's arrest.
"The latest arrest of Zunar demonstrates the ongoing blatant attempts by the government to silence critical voices.
"The incident follows a long pattern of harassment against the cartoonist, including legal harassment under the country’s controversial sedition laws," IFJ said.
It also called the charge against Zunar to be dropped, calling the Sedition Act a "toll of repression for the government to threaten and intimidate the country's media and other dissenting voices".
On top of the ongoing investigation, Zunar also faces nine charges under the Sedition Act 1948 for criticising the jailing of PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim in February last year.
He had also slammed the judges who delivered the decision.
If convicted, Zunar faces a maximum sentence of 43 years in prison. - Mkini