KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities have deported a French lawyer representing a human rights group alleging corruption in the government's $1.2 billion purchase of submarines from French shipbuilder DCNS.
The case could embarrass Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was defense minister at the time the submarines were bought, and who is widely expected to call for general elections next year.
Malaysia's Immigration department said in a statement late on Friday that the lawyer, William Bourdon, was arrested after arriving at Kuala Lumpur international airport earlier that day from Penang in the north.
"Investigations by the Immigration Department revealed that Mr. Bourdon had violated the terms of his Social Visit Pass," the statement said, adding he would be deported on the earliest available flight.
Bourdon later left the country on a flight to France, said Cynthia Gabriel, director of the Voice of the Malaysian People (SUARAM), which Bourdon represents.
Malaysia signed a deal in 2002 to purchase two submarines from DCNS, which is part-owned by defense electronics group Thales .