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Thursday, Sept 24
Malaysian police call in Anwar's wife for questioning
By LAURINDA KEYS (Associated Press)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Police spent two hours questioning the wife of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, whose weekend arrest followed some of the largest protests in this country's four decades of independence.

Azizah Ismail, who assumed leadership of her husband's reform movement after his arrest, on Wednesday remained largely confined to her house, surrounded by nearly one dozen riot police who refused to let reporters inside.

In the government's drive to stifle any further challenge to Prime Minister Mahathir's Mohamad's 17-year rule, aides to Azizah said she was told by police she would face arrest if she publicly addressed her husband's case.

Anwar, arrested Sunday, is being held under a colonial security law that allows imprisonment without trial. He was dumped as deputy prime minister and finance minister on Sept. 2 by Mahathir, who called him morally unfit to lead.

Azizah was accompanied by two lawyers for the interrogation at police headquarters. No details of her remarks were released and she did not stop to speak to reporters as she drove out of the police station.

''The police have been very hard on her and on me as a counsel,'' said one of her attorneys, Uthaya Kumar.

In addition to Anwar, a dozen of his associates have also been sent to prison, to keep them from fomenting unrest. The government has sent out numerous reminders that the reform movement's occasional demonstrations are illegal.

Before answering her summons, Azizah rushed to a Kuala Lumpur courthouse after hearing unconfirmed reports that her husband was being brought there. Anwar faces charges ranging from disturbing public order to sexual misconduct, including the crime of sodomy.

But she left dejected. Azizah and family defense attorneys have not heard from Anwar since his arrest. They were incensed by the stalling tactics of the police.

''We don't see the need for this cat-and-mouse game. It is common courtesy to tell the lawyers if they are going to book him,'' said Zainul Zachariah, one of Anwar's lawyers.

Family members were being allowed into Anwar's home after their identities were verified and others could go in only with a written invitation from the household, said Mohd. Khalid, a police officer at the scene.

Azizah, who has spent most of her time at home with the couple's six children, was being investigated for allegedly making seditious statements. She alleged that police may be planning to inject her husband with the HIV virus while in custody.

Anwar, 51, has adamantly denied all the charges against him. He says trouble started when he began questioning Mahathir's policies and autocratic leadership.

Since his ouster, tens of thousands of supporters have demonstrated at rallies throughout the country. Many are from the conservative Islamic party he founded during his student days and they do not believe the sexual misconduct allegations.

Police drove marchers away from the prime minister's residence Sunday night in what was the first violent clash between police and demonstrators in this Southeast Asian country in a decade.

Late Tuesday, the government disclosed that Anwar was being held at Kuala Lumpur's police headquarters.