KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia's opposition leader and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is under investigation for allegedly violating a recently passed fake news law, after he accused the government of attempting to stop him from contesting the May 9 election.
Kuala Lumpur's police chief said the case is one of the eight reports filed in relation to the ongoing election campaign, state news agency Bernama reported on Wednesday.
The law, enacted just before parliament was dissolved in early April, allows for a fine of up to 500,000 ringgit ($127,550) and six years in prison.
Mahathir on April 27 said he had reason to believe that a technical problem with his chartered jet may have been a deliberate attempt to prevent him from flying from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi. The 92-year-old needed to present himself at the resort island the following day to register for the election.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia denied Mahathir's claim, citing a "minor and routine technical fault" that rendered the Bombardier Challenger CL60 unable to take off.
VistaJet, the private jet charter company, confirmed the technical issue and said another aircraft was immediately arranged. Mahathir said there was no such replacement, and insisted he made the trip on another jet borrowed from a friend.
Mahathir is reportedly the first Malaysian to face a probe under the fake news law, which is ostensibly aimed at protecting citizens from fabricated information. Opponents say the law suppresses freedom of expression.
A Danish national was recently charged and convicted of posting a YouTube video that claimed the authorities were slow to respond to the killing of a Palestinian lecturer in broad daylight in Kuala Lumpur. The man was sentenced to a week in jail and fined 10,000 ringgit after pleading guilty.
Mahathir's campaign had already taken a hit in April when the authorities temporarily disbanded his party, claiming it had failed to fulfill a request for details on its annual general meeting held in December 2017.