[JURIST] The detention of five prominent members of the Hindu Rights Action Force [organization website] is proper because they are a threat to national security, Malaysian Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail [official profile] told the country's Federal Court Thursday. Gani disputed arguments [JURIST report] made Wednesday by the detainees' lawyer that their detention is illegal, saying that Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi [official website; BBC profile] had only ordered the arrest after a complete investigation. The group has been held under the country's controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) [HRW backgrounder], a preventive detention law that allows the Malaysian government to detain suspects for two years without trial and to renew the detention indefinitely.
The five activists were arrested [JURIST report] in December 2007 after they were accused of being involved in orchestrating a November 2007 street demonstration [TIME report] in Kuala Lumpur by thousands of the nation's ethnic Indians to protest alleged discrimination by the predominantly Malay Muslim government. The 2007 arrests were the first time since 2001 that Malaysia has invoked the ISA against government critics. Three Hindu activists originally arrested before the protest and charged with sedition were subsequently released [BBC reports]. In December, 26 ethnic Indians were charged with attempted murder [JURIST report] in connection with the Kuala Lumpur protest. AP has more.