Malaysian police arrested a wanted French conspiracy theorist in connection with the kidnapping of an eight-year-old girl.
Rémy Daillet-Wiedemann is wanted by France since April accused of ordering the kidnapping of the girl.
He was arrested on Saturday in the northern Malaysian town of Langkawi, along with his pregnant partner and three children.
But the acting chief of criminal investigation for the police, Dev Kumar, told the Associated Press that the group had been arrested for “possessing expired travel visas” and was not related to Daillet-Wiedemann’s international arrest warrant.
Kumar added that he believed the family had been living on the resort island of Langkawi since 2015, but that their visas expired on May 21.
Daillet-Wiedemann’s lawyer has also stated that the family was not arrested for the kidnapping of Mia Montemaggi.
Eight-year-old Montemaggi was abducted on April 13 by several men while living with her maternal grandmother in a village in the Vosges region of eastern France.
She was found a few days later with her mother in an abandoned factory in Switzerland after a widespread police search.
Prosecutors suspect her mother may have been planning to take her on a flight to Russia, after losing a custody battle.
It has also been claimed that Daillet-Wiedemann played an important role in organizing the child’s abduction and her stay in Switzerland.
Several people with right-wing and anti-government ties have already been charged with the kidnapping.
Daillet-Wiedemann was a former regional leader of the centrist France Democratic Movement party before being ousted in 2010.
He reportedly runs a website calling for the overthrow of the French government and supporting conspiracy theories calling for the use of face masks and 5G technology to be stopped.
Daillet-Wiedemann’s lawyer has said that his client has been on a hunger strike following his arrest in Malaysia.
“This French family and their children are being held in extremely difficult, inhuman and degrading conditions,” Jean-Christophe Basson-Larbi said in a statement.
“Rémy Daillet-Wiedemann and his family have lived regularly in Malaysia for more than six years and are perfectly integrated.
“Due to restrictions related to Covid, administrations have been closed, preventing the renewal of visas for foreigners residing on the island of Langkawi,” he added.
The lawyer has also claimed that the family had applied for a visa extension but had not received a letter of support from the French embassy.
Malaysian police have said that Daillet-Wiedemann would be turned over to immigration services once he had tested negative for the virus.
“We are aware of the condition of the wife and children,” said Kumar, “we hope they do not have to spend more time than necessary in Malaysia.”
The conspiracy theorist could be deported to France by Malaysian authorities for illegal residence in his country, or extradited if the international arrest warrant is upheld. The French consulate in Malaysia has not ruled on the case.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism