TOC Editor Terry Xu has been charged for criminal defamation by the Attorney General’s Chamber for ‘publishing an imputation concerning members of the Cabinet of Singapore by words intended to be read, to wit, by approving the publication on the website [The Online Citizen] of a letter from Willy Sum…which stated that there was a ‘corruption at the highest echelons’.
The AGC, in their charge, said that Terry was aware that the imputation would harm the reputation of member of the Cabinet of Singapore and therefore punishable under section 500 of the Penal Code.
Terry had stated that he refused to sign the charge sheet as he felt there was nothing to indicate that the signature was merely meant as an acknowledgement of the charge and not an admission of guilt.
"Willy Sum" whose real name is De Costa Daniel Augustin, has also been charged for the same offence and faces the same sentence if found guilty. Additionally, De Costa is also charged for committing an offence under the Computer Misuse Act of Singapore and is currently being detained the police. He is being set on bail for SGD$10,000 as the latter offence is an arrestable offence.
Both are scheduled to appear in State Court to face these charges at 9am on 13 December 2018. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment, a fine or both.
The offending article was earlier taken down under the orders of Infocomm and Media Development Authority on 18 September 2018. IMDA then reported to the Singapore Police Force on 8 Oct.
On 20 Nov, SPF went to the residence of Terry and De Costa, seizing their electronic devices under court orders. Terry was subjected to an eight-hour interview with the police on the day itself, while De Costa was interviewed at a later date.