Datuk Shaharudin Ali who spoke on behalf of Hasanah at a press conference today said that the letter between MEIO and the CIA was routine for intelligence gathering and sharing to safeguard the peace and safety of Malaysia. (Pix by AIZUDDIN SAAD)

KUALA LUMPUR: It is nonsense to state that sending a letter to the United States' (US) Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) amounted to treason.

In saying this, Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO) former director-general Datuk Hasanah Abd Hamid has put to rest speculation on the leaked letter, as it is now confirmed that the letter is real.

Lawyer Datuk Shaharudin Ali who spoke on behalf of Hasanah at a press conference today said that the letter between MEIO and the CIA was routine for intelligence gathering and sharing to safeguard the peace and safety of Malaysia.

Shaharudin who read out a statement from his client said that those saying the letter was treasonous were not only lying but speaking nonsense and not making sense.

This, he said was because it was MEIO's mandate to safeguard Malaysia and not the opposite.

Meanwhile, Shaharudin said then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak need not have been informed about the letter, and by extension, about routine correspondence between Malaysia's various intelligence agencies and their foreign counterparts.

"In regards to operational matters (between MEIO and CIA), the prime minister and Cabinet need not be informed," he said, pointing out that the letter from MEIO to the CIA dated May 4 was not a strange matter, and it did not amount to treason as it was vetted by 10 senior intelligence officers before it was sent.

Shaharudin however declined to confirm or deny whether the May 4 letter was sent by Hasanah on Najib's orders.

"Following it (leak), various polemic had been made on the criminal leak of this national secret, among others that the letter is treasonous.

"This allegation is incorrect and only meant to fulfil the political aims of certain quarters.

"Investigation must be carried out by the police fairly and objectively," he said.

The press conference at his lawfirm today was held several hours after Hasanah lodged a police report on the letter at the Travers police station at 1pm.

Shaharudin informed that on July 15, his client was shocked to find out that the letter had been leaked to the public.

He said that Hasanah was dismayed as the leak had jeopardised the safety and morale of MEIO agents here and worldwide.

"It can cause disruption of MEIO intelligence sources," he said, adding that the leak could jeopardise the relationship between Malaysian intelligence agencies and their foreign counterparts.

Shaharudin said that the leak should serve as a wake-up call on the importance of safeguarding the confidentiality of such intelligence correspondence for the safety of the country.

Shaharudin said that the May 4 letter from MEIO to CIA was protected under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and should never have been leaked to the public in the first place.

"The police must probe who was behind the leak as it not only violates national security but it also involves issues of discipline and ethics of public servants," he said.

Also present at the press conference today was Hasanah's other lawyers Tan Sri Abd Aziz Abd Rahman and Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz.

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