A British woman arrested in Malaysia for allegedly posing naked on top of a sacred mountain is “scared” and “very upset”, her father has said.
Timothy Hawkins said he had spoken to his daughter Eleanor, who is being held with four other Westerners while they are investigated for indecent behaviour.
They are believed to be part of a group of 10 people who stripped naked before taking photos at the peak of Mount Kinabalu on May 30 – an act which a senior minister in Malaysia has blamed for causing an earthquake that killed 18 climbers last week.
Eleanor, a 23-year-old Southampton University graduate from Derby, was detained on Tuesday at Tawau airport as she was flying from the island of Borneo to the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Her father told the Press Association: “We spoke to her this morning. She’s okay, she’s very scared, she’s very upset.
“She’s been arrested. It’s not a situation she’s been in before so it’s not good.
“We’ve talked to the consulate and arranged a lawyer.”
Hawkins, who runs a mechanical engineering business, said his daughter is “obviously in the photos” but he did not want the situation to be “blown out of all proportion”.
“It’s fair enough to charge for the misdemeanour committed,” he said. “What we don’t want is her lumbered with further charges.”
After a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit the 13,400ft-high mountain on Friday, Sabah deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blamed the tragedy on the tourists for showing “disrespect to the sacred mountain” by posing naked at the peak.
The Malaysian politician has said a special ritual will be conducted to “appease the mountain spirit” after 18 people were killed in the disaster.
Eleanor’s father said he did not want to prejudice his daughter’s trial by voicing his views on Mr Kitingan’s belief that the group’s act caused the earthquake.
But he criticised the actions of an arrested Canadian – named in reports as 33-year-old Emil Kaminski – who is said to have circulated the photos and allegedly posted offensive comments on social media.
Hawkins added: “What I will say is the guy stirring up a media storm – the halfwit Canadian guy – is not doing anyone any favours.”
His daughter, who recently graduated with a master’s in aeronautical engineering, was in the middle of an extended trip around south-east Asia which began in January, according to reports.
Police today obtained a court order to detain her and three other Westerners for four days while they are investigated for indecent behaviour, Sabah state police chief Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said.
Two Canadian siblings, Lindsey and Danielle Petersen, and a Dutch male surrendered at a police station in Sabah on Tuesday evening, he told the Associated Press.