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Malaysia has deported Hamza Kashgari, the Saudi journalist and blogger accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in comments made on Twitter.
The Malaysian government confirmed that Kashgari, 23, was today sent back to Saudi Arabia, where he fled last week, on a private plane, in the custody of Saudi officials.
More on GlobalPost: Hamza Kashgari, Saudi writer, arrested in Malaysia for offensive Tweet
Kashgari, a newspaper columnist based in Jeddah, was detained upon his arrival in Malaysia – a Muslim majority country – after his tweet led to outrage, and calls for his execution.
In his tweet, sent last week on the prophet's birthday, Kashgari said:
"I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don't understand about you ... I will not pray for you."
The remarks, which spurred more than 30,000 responses, were condemned by Saudi clerics as blasphemous, the BBC reported.
Although Kashgari apologized for the tweet, he decided to leave the country after continued death threats. Rights groups say he was on his way to New Zealand when arrested.
In Saudi Arabia, blasphemy is a crime punishable by death – and Kashgari's deportation comes despite protests from various rights groups.
In a statement, Malaysia's Home Ministry said the country had a “long-standing arrangement by which individuals wanted by one country are extradited when detained by the other.” As such, it said that Kashgari was being “repatriated under this arrangement.”
However a lawyer for Kashgari's family said he had obtained a court order to block the deportation, and that the move was therefore unlawful, Al Jazeera reported.