Two Australian journalists who were detained in Malaysia after trying to question Prime Minister Najib Razak about multiple scandals swirling around him were deported on Tuesday.
Reporter Linton Besser and camera operator Louie Eroglu flew out of the Malaysian city of Kuching bound for Singapore, attorney Albert Tang said.
The two men, investigative journalists from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), had been ordered to appear in court on Tuesday morning, facing possible charges for obstructing a public servant.
But the appearance was abruptly cancelled and they were informed there would be no charges, Tang and ABC said. "Obviously, they are relieved," Tang told AFP.
The ABC said police had called their lawyer on Monday night to say no charges would be filed. "The lawyer was called in the middle of the night and told it's all off you don't have to go to the court," ABC Southeast Asia correspondent Adam Harvey said.
"What you'll need to do is bring the ABC team to a police station here where we'll do some paperwork and hopefully a few hours after that they'll be able to leave Malaysia."
Speaking at Kuching's airport, Besser told reporters it had been a "roller coaster few days" but declined further comment as the pair hurried to board their flight.
Besser and Eroglu were detained overnight Saturday after they crossed a security line and "aggressively tried to approach the prime minister", Malaysian police said.
Besser tried to question Najib on Saturday night during a visit to a mosque in Kuching, which is on Borneo island.
"Foreign journalists can't just walk into this country and assume that they can do their job without serving the regulations that have been laid down by the federal government and by the governments of Sabah and Sarawak, especially on immigration laws,” said Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed.
"They obstructed the PM's programme. The security people looking after the PM need to make sure the PM is safe. They don't know who these two people are - they just barged in and asked questions and they didn't have a work permit to operate as journalists in Sarawak."
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Monday had expressed concern at their detention, saying journalists should be allowed to work unhindered. ABC denies the obstruction accusation and has said the reporters were unaware of any police line.
"They did nothing wrong in Kuching. They were doing journalism," ABC News director Gaven Morris said in a statement Tuesday, adding he was "very glad and relieved" at the outcome.
"This incident has demonstrated again why it is vital to defend media freedom, including the right to question authority."
Phil Roberts from Human Rights Watch said the decision to arrest the duo was "knee-jerk" and demonstrative of "the incredible lengths that the authorities are prepared to go to protect Prime Minister Najib from any sort of hard questions about his actions."
"It's shameful that the Malaysia government is apparently willing to shred the country's already diminished reputation as a rights-respecting democracy to shield one man from serious allegations of malfeasance," he said in a statement
Najib, 62, has been under fire over allegations that billions of dollars were stolen from a state firm he founded and over his own acceptance of a murky US$681 million overseas payment.
Najib and the state firm have denied wrongdoing but he has curbed inquiries into the scandals and purged his ruling United Malays National Organisation of critics.
Media outlets reporting on the allegations have been muzzled and whistle-blowers arrested, raising concerns over rights and freedom of speech.