Activist charged with sedition for denouncing Anwar verdict on Facebook

Eric Paulsen (pic), the lawyer who represented activist Lawrence Jeyaraj, said his client was charged this morning in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Eric Paulsen (pic), the lawyer who represented activist Lawrence Jeyaraj, said his client was charged this morning in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — An activist was charged with sedition today for criticising on Facebook the Federal Court’s decision to convict PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy.

Eric Paulsen, the lawyer who represented activist Lawrence Jeyaraj, said his client was charged this morning in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.

“He pleaded not guilty,” the lawyer told Malay Mail Online when contacted today, adding that bail was fixed at RM5,000 with two sureties.

The case will be mentioned again before Sessions Court judge Azman Ahmad on January 6, Paulsen said.

Lawrence was charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948, which punishes first-time offenders with a maximum fine of RM5,000 or a maximum jail term of three years or both.

The activist was accused of committing the offence on February 12 this year by publishing a Facebook comment that purportedly said the judiciary had become “underlings of the political masters”.

He was arrested on February 20, just a day after Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S. Arutchelvan was arrested over an alleged February 10 statement denouncing Anwar’s sodomy verdict as a “political judgment, beyond reasonable doubt”.

Putrajaya had previously pledged to repeal the Sedition Act 1948 that critics say is used to stifle political opposition and dissent, but later tabled amendments to the colonial-era law in April that enhanced punishments for sedition.

The Federal Court upheld last February 10 the Court of Appeal’s 2014 ruling that had reversed Anwar’s acquittal of sodomising former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, also sentencing him to five years’ jail.

* An earlier version of this story erroneously stated a jail term of three for first time convicted offenders and seven years for subsequent convictions. However, the amendments have yet to come into force at this time. Malay Mail Online apologises for the error, which has since been corrected.

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