Australians arrested after drinking beer in shoes

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) Nine Australians, including a government adviser, who were in a Malaysian prison for stripping naked and drinking beer in shoes have been arrested, the foreign minister said on Wednesday.

The nine have been in custody since Sunday when they stripped down to wear Budgy Smuggler-branded swimsuits decorated with the Malaysian flag in plain view of thousands of spectators at the Sepang circuit on Sunday after Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo won the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has dismissed reports from some Australian media that the men’s exuberant display was just a lack of judgment.

It was clearly premeditated. They wore the Budgy Smugglers and bought them in Australia, ”Bishop told Nine Network.

Bishop said she had met Jack Walker, an adviser to Defense Industry Minister Chris Pyne, who was among the arrested men aged 25 to 29.

Police said the men were being investigated for “intentional insult with intent to cause a breach of public order” and public indecency.

Police said the men could face up to two years in prison, a fine or both if found guilty.

Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper nicknamed the men the Budgie Nine, using a spelling variation of the short name Parakeet, a small Australian parrot. The name plays on nine Australians arrested in Indonesia for heroin trafficking in 2005 who became known as Bali Nine.

Dear humorless Malaysia. Free the Budgie Nine, ” a front page headline said.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said on Tuesday the men’s decision to undress was inappropriate and misguided.

“You are in another country, you have to be careful what you are doing,” Joyce told reporters in Canberra. “But I’m sure – well, I hope – Malaysians will understand that I don’t think there is really any malice in this. Stupidity? Obviously. Malice? No.”

Associated Press editor Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia contributed to this report.

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