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World's Press Condemns Contempt of Court Charges Against Malaysiakini

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World's Press Condemns Contempt of Court Charges Against Malaysiakini

The hearings were announced following the rejection by a panel of Federal Court judges of an application to set aside a case against Malaysiakini and Mr. Gan that centred on user comments posted on the media organisation’s website. The comments appeared underneath an article detailing the reopening of the country’s judicial system.

In presenting the case, the attorney-general’s office claimed the comments had “scandalised” the judiciary, with federal counsel characterising them as “very personal, scurrilous, [and] an unwarranted attack.”

Malaysiakini insists that the controversial comments were removed within minutes of the police alerting the company to their existence. However, the panel of judges found that in his initial complaint, Attorney-General Idrus Harun had established a prima facie case to initiate the contempt proceedings, ruling that Malaysiakini had facilitated the publication of the comments and therefore was presumed in law to have published them.

WAN-IFRA has written to Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat to call for the charges to be dropped and the case to be dismissed.

"We believe freedom of the press and freedom of expression online is greatly threatened by the decision to proceed with these contempt hearings, and risks creating a chilling effect for online publishers and internet users," said the letter. 

"We call on the Malaysian authorities to cease efforts to threaten media freedom and intimidate independent outlets and urge you to dismiss the case against Malaysiakini and its editor-in-chief, Steven Gan at the earliest opportunity."

Read the full letter here.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2020-07-07 13:18

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