KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers for Malaysian opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim have asked for Prime Minister Najib Razak to grant his immediate release from prison so that he can properly recover from shoulder surgery.
Anwar, 70, is due to be released in six months on good behaviour. He was sentenced to five years' jail for a 2014 sodomy conviction which he claimed was politically motivated.
His US legal advisor, Kimberley Motley, is in Kuala Lumpur to meet Anwar as well as to try to meet the deputy and prime ministers.
She told a media conference on Monday (Dec 11) that Najib was "so concerned he went to visit Anwar in the hospital" last month.
"(Anwar has) been in prison for 34 months as a 70-year-old man who's in the hospital. He's in pain. He shouldn't be in the hospital. And he's kind of getting rehabilitation treatment but not the full treatment that he's entitled to," she said.
"I think since Prime Minister Najib was interested in seeing his medical condition when he went to visit him, it seems to me that he should continue to be invested in his medical condition ... He was interested then, he must be interested now."
Lawyers said the Malaysian government has the power to grant Anwar's release on medical grounds - although local laws would still prohibit his participation in politics for five years upon his release unless he is acquitted.
General elections are due to be held within months and releasing the charismatic leader early would allow him to participate in campaigning at the very least.
There are two pending legal appeals for his acquittal, failing which Anwar would have to rely on a royal pardon or government intervention to be released earlier than scheduled.