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Australian senator blocked by Malaysia

Feb. 16, 2013 at 3:35 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- An Australian lawmaker was detained by Malaysian authorities at the Kuala Lumpur airport after being told he was a security risk, officials said.

Nick Xenophon, an independent senator for South Australia, was taken into custody upon his arrival in Malaysia at about 10 a.m. Saturday, ABC News (Australia) reported, adding that he would likely be put on a flight to Melbourne Saturday night.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he would be seeking an explanation from the Malaysian government about Xenophon's detainment.

"We're expressing our disappointment, we're seeking a full explanation of this," Carr said. "We think for a friendly country to do this is quite a sad thing."

Xenophon traveled to Malaysia to take part in talks with Malaysian opposition members and officials from the electoral commission ahead of this year's national election.

"Malaysia is due to have elections here very soon. I think the Australian government has been incredibly silent about some of the abuses that have been occurring here in terms of the way the democratic system runs or doesn't run," Xenophon told ABC News 24. "And what we were trying to ascertain with members of both the coalition and the government was to how free and fair the elections are likely to be. But at this stage I've been told that I'm not allowed entry and I have to be on the next flight back home."

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