LONDON (AP) _ Amnesty International gave its backing Friday to Malayasia's jailed former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, saying that he was a ``prisoner of conscience.''

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohhamad dismissed Anwar on Sept. 2 and Anwar was arrested on Sunday. Fourteen of his associates have also been detained, Amnesty International said.

``Anwar and his associates are prisoners of conscience detained solely for non-violently calling for political reforms and for holding different opinions to the prime minister,'' Amnesty International said.

``By misusing Malaysia's laws to detain political opponents, Prime Minister Mahathir is contravening international legal standards on freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial and the treatment of detainees,'' the organization added.