A former Armidale woman is one of six journalists who have been questioned by police in Malaysia. Five of them are Australian.
Sharon Roobol, who grew up in Armidale, is the executive producer of the Al Jazeera program, 101 East, which reported on Malaysia's treatment of undocumented workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the broadcast of their documentary Locked up in Malaysia's lockdown on July 3, Malaysian police have been investigating the broadcaster and six of its editorial staff, including Sharon.
They could possibly be charged for "sedition, defamation and violation of" Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Act for the story, which reported that thousands of workers had been arrested during raids in areas under strict lockdowns.
The journalists were questioned at police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur last Friday.
While Malaysian officials have criticized the documentary as being inaccurate, misleading and unfair, Al Jazeera strongly refuted those charges and stood by the professionalism, quality and impartiality of its journalism.
Sharon is based in Malaysia, but still has family in Armidale including her sister Leanne, who is a teacher at NECOM and the music director at The Armidale School.
A senior Australian executive producer with more than 25 years' experience, Sharon has led the 101 East team in Malaysia since 2008.
Under her leadership, 101 East has won a raft of prestigious international journalism honours, including New York Festivals International TV and Film Awards, Walkley Awards, Royal Television Society Awards and been nominated for the Emmy Awards and a Peabody.
She previously worked for the ABC and was a producer at their London bureau.
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told The Armidale Express they were providing assistance in accordance with the Consular Services Charter to a number of Australians in Kuala Lumpur.
Owing to privacy obligations they said they would not provide further comment.