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Tuesday, Sept 15
Malaysian police round up ousted Cabinet minister's colleagues
By JOCELYN GECKER (Associated Press)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysia's ousted deputy prime minister said the police noose is tightening around his colleagues. His personal secretary was detained Tuesday.

''They're gradually picking away people,'' said Anwar Ibrahim, claiming a third of his close associates have been arrested and coerced ''to admit certain things - treason, selling government secrets or whatever.''

Anwar said that police arrested Mohamad Ahmad, his former private secretary at the finance ministry, early Tuesday morning and he had not been heard from since.

''Until now, no news,'' Anwar, who was sacked as finance and deputy prime minister on Sept. 2, told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Anwar also said that another private secretary, Azmin Ali, had been notified Tuesday of his imminent arrest. Anwar's adopted brother, Sukma Dermawan, was detained last week.

At a late-night rally outside his house Monday, Anwar said that a close friend, Munawar Anees, was arrested under the country's Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite imprisonment without trial.

''Is this a police state or not? What's happening to this country?'' Anwar had shouted through a microphone to thousands of supporters crammed into his backyard.

''You cannot arrest people without reason. You cannot torture witnesses and force them to give statements,'' Anwar said. Although Anwar has not been formally charged with any crime, he has been accused of leaking state secrets, sedition, tampering with police investigations and having sex with several women and a man.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has not given details about why he dismissed his deputy, saying only that Anwar was immoral and unfit to lead.

On Tuesday, Lim Kit Siang, the opposition leader in Parliament and Anwar's one-time chief antagonist, stopped by Anwar's house to to inquire about the recent arrests.

Lim told reporters that Anwar's dismissal and the growing number of his arrested associates raised ''grave concerns'' about the country's handling of human rights.

''It has raised a very grave question as to whether Mahathir has become an investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury all in one,'' Lim said.

Lim's son, Lim Guan Eng, recently began serving an 18-month prison term for writing a pamphlet that raised questions about the country's judicial system.

Earlier Tuesday, Lim appealed to the Prisons Department to allow weekly family visits, saying the monthly-visit rule was established in 1953, under British colonialism. Lim also said his son was denied access to newspapers.

''Clearly, many prison rules are outdated, dehumanizing and worse, soul-destroying,'' Lim said in a statement reported by the national news agency, Bernama.