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I am not going to be cowed: Alan Shadrake (Updated)

Latest: Alan Shadrake visited the Gleneagles hospital on Saturday. TOC understands he has been advised to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours starting Tuesday as his heart is weak.

Excerpts from the British Weekly's interview with author of Once A Jolly Hangman, Alan Shadrake:

“Although they are giving me a very gruelling time here – every day I am interrogated for eight to ten hours, often covering the same ground  -  I would write the book again in a heartbeat. I am not allowed to have an attorney to be present when I am questioned. But I’m not going to be cowed. I’m looking forward to my day in court.

“I feel I am making history with this book. I have had messages of support from all over the world. I have the British government, Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists on my side and I’m hopeful I will prevail.

“Everything I have written is true. There is a wave of change coming in this country.  It’s time for Lee Kwan Yew to stop running Singapore like his own private fiefdom.”

Read the interview here: British Weekly.

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Letter by Mr M Ravi, counsel for Mr Alan Shadrake:

Criminal Investigation Department
391 New Bridge Road
Police Cantonment Complex
Block C
Singapore 088762

23th July 2010

RE: ALAN SHADRAKE

Dear Sir,

We are instructed on behalf of our client to request that you allow our client to rest for 48 hours prior to taking instructions to defend him in the forthcoming proceedings.

We are further instructed to place on record serious concerns regarding the impact on the physical health and mental well-being which your unrelenting interrogation appears to be having upon him.

Our client is 75 years old.

He suffers from  serious medical conditions which are made worse by stress.

You arrested him on 17th July 2010 and began interrogating him and now although he is on bail, you have subjected him to several hours of questioning for the past 3 days continuously.

You will agree that this is not a case where it is essential in the interests of the security of the State that evidence  be gathered urgently before members of the public are injured or  before another offence is committed by accomplices. It is not a case where evidence must be gathered immediately in order to prevent evidence being destroyed. Indeed, insofar as the alleged offence consists of a publication, all the facts are already there in front of you.  In these circumstances relentless and continued interrogation appears as a form of harassment. As such we are instructed it is unnecessary, inappropriate and ill-befitting Singapore and on his behalf we formally request that it stop immediately.

It appears to us that in a civilised society in which the conduct of the Police and other Prosecutorial Officials is an important measure of the strength of moral and civic virtue, it is unbecoming for those who have the power over individuals who are subject to their custody and subject to their command to act in a manner which results in physical or mental harm or causes undue stress. We therefore must ask you to consider the age and condition of our client and to ensure that he is not subject to untoward stress and alarm.

We reserve the right to bring to the attention of the Court (and to file official complaints in appropriate national and international tribunals) should an independent medical examination indicate that our client’s  health has been and is being placed in jeopardy by the conduct of officials under your command.

Yours faithfully,

M. Ravi

cc. client

cc. British High Commission

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Open letter to the authorities: Judicial harassment of journalist is an affront to freedom of expression by the International Federation for Human Rights:

The Honourable Mrs. Koh Juat Jong
Acting Attorney-General
The Attorney-General’s Chambers
Republic of Singapore

Subject: Judicial harassment of journalist, an affront to freedom of expression

Your Excellency,

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), representing 164 organisations across the world, is deeply concerned about the arrest of and charges leveled against British journalist Mr. Alan Shadrake on 18 July 2010, a day after he launched his book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice on the Dock, which contained evidence suggesting double standards in Singapore’s policy and the use of the death penalty. According to information received, the arrest was made based on a complaint lodged by the Media Development Authority.

According to court documents obtained by the media, your office accuses Mr. Shadrake for making allegations in his book that impugn on the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judiciary. During his detention at a police complex, he was reportedly kept awake for interrogation for extended period of time and he was asked to explain all chapters in his book, his research and the reasons behind authoring the book. Publishing a book of investigative journalism is not a crime, nor is peaceful expression of dissent, and by taking legal action against someone for doing so, Singapore is seriously undermining the freedom of expression and brings into question the independence and integrity of the very institution it is accusing Mr. Shadrake of impugning, namely its judiciary.

While FIDH welcomes Mr. Shadrake’s subsequent release on 20 July after posting bail, we remain troubled about the continued restriction of freedom of expression and the press in Singapore. The arrest and the legal action against Mr. Shadrake is the latest example in a worrying trend of suppression of opposition and criticisms through judicial intimidation. FIDH recalls that “in October 2009, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, successfully brought a defamation suit against the “Far Eastern Economic Review” and its editor-in-chief Hugo Restall for a 2006 article based on an interview of an opposition politician who was critical of the ruling party. There have been other defamation lawsuits filed by the government against international media, including Bloomberg, “The Economist” and “The International Herald Tribune” and “Wall Street Journal”, the latter for allegedly ‘impugning the independence of Singapore’s judiciary’.

The judicial harassment of Mr. Shadrake for authoring a book critical of the use of the death penalty also creates a climate of fear and restricts the openness of the public discussion on sensitive issues, such as the death penalty. Furthermore, it underscores Singapore’s refusal to take note of changing international opinion in favour of abolition of this inhuman practice and of empirical evidence and experience that strongly suggest that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent of crimes.

Singapore’s handling of the case of Mr. Shadrake will be a barometer of its readiness to match its economic progress as the most prosperous nation in ASEAN with strong commitment to adhere to the human rights clauses in the ASEAN Charter as well as the rights guaranteed by the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights. FIDH sincerely hopes Singapore will end the use of judicial action against individuals or organisations peacefully expressing their opinions or dissent regarding governmental policies and actions.

Thank you in advance for taking into consideration our concerns and recommendations.

Sincerely yours,

Souhayr Belhassen
FIDH President

Copied to :

* The Honourable Mr. George Yong-Boon Yeo, Minister for Foreign Affairs

* The Honourable Mr. K. Shanmugam, Minister of Law and Second Minister for Home Affairs

* The Honourable Mr. Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts

* The Media Development Authority