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New revelations in the case of the missing Malaysian airplane have authorities questioning the pilots, one of whom is said to have intense political ties.

According to USA Today, police have discovered that one of the pilots, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, has close ties with Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Before flying the missing plane on March 8, Zaharie attended the leader’s court case.

Flight 370 pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah has close ties with Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has been fighting a charge of sodomy. Hours before boarding the flight, Zaharie turned up at the Court of Appeal in the country’s new administrative capital, Putrajaya, for a hearing at which Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison. The opposition is appealing Anwar’s prison sentence.

However, friends have come to the pilot’s defense, claiming that he isn’t a terrorist.

Speaking to USA TODAY, a close friend of Zaharie, Peter Chong, said Zaharie does support the opposition but that the reports that he may have had a role in diverting the plane were “not true.”

“He is a political activist, yes. And yes, he was in court for Anwar’s trial and he is our strong supporter, but that does not make him a terrorist,” Chong said.

Authorities are investigating every angle of the bizarre case, even confiscating items like laptops from Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid’s homes. It was previously reported that the last words from Fariq to dispatch were “All right, roger that,” but the co-pilot replied “All right, good night” calmly, shortly after flight MH370 diverted off course.

Over 20 countries are investigating the missing plane, with new information revealing that someone on board switched transponders, therefore shutting down communication to satellites and dispatchers.

According to new satellite data analyzed by the FAA, NTSB, Air Accidents Investigation Branch and Malaysian authorities, the plane’s communications from the Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) were cut off just before the aircraft reached the east coast of the peninsula of Malaysia, and the aircraft’s transponder was turned off shortly thereafter, near the border of Malaysia and Vietnam, Malaysian authorities said.

Shortly afterward, someone on board switched off the aircraft’s transponder, which communicates with civilian air traffic controllers. Although the aircraft was flying virtually blind to air-traffic controllers at this point, on board equipment continued to send “pings” to satellites.

We will keep you updated on any information that comes from this puzzling mystery.