Criminal

State of Ohio v. Ellison

Date: 

10/10/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Ripley C. Ellison

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Hamilton County Municipal Court; Court of Appeals of Ohio, First Appellate District, Hamilton County

Case Number: 

07CRB-33168 (trial level); C-070875 (appellate level)

Legal Counsel: 

Michael W. Welsh

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

The state of Ohio brought criminal charges of telecommunications harassment against Ripley Ellison, a high school student, who stated on her MySpace page that her classmate and former friend had molested her (Ripley's) younger brother.

The Hamilton County Municipal Court convicted Ellison under Ohio Rev. Code § 2917.21(b) after a bench trial.  The Ohio Court of Appeals reversed, holding the evidence was not sufficient to support her conviction.  Specifically, the appellate court found that (1) the state had failed to establish that Ellison made a communication with the purpose to harass; (2) Ellison had posted the accusation for the legitimate purpose of warning others of what she believed to be criminal behavior; and (3) Ellison never directed the communication to her classmate, despite the opportunity to do so.  

The majority opinion did not address Ellison's First Amendment challenge to her conviction. But Judge Painter stated in his concurring opinion that "the First Amendment would not allow punishment for making a nonthreatening comment on the Internet, just as it would not for writing a newspaper article, posting a sign, or speaking on the radio."

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Might also be a disclipinary action threat in here as well. {MCS}

Source: Volokh Conspiracy, via RSS

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

RSS

Subject Area: 

Lori Drew Trial To Start Next Week

Believe it or not, the criminal case against Lori Drew heads to trial next Tuesday. Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles indicted Drew last May for her alleged role in a hoax on MySpace directed at Megan Meier, a 13-year-old neighbor of Drew's who committed suicide in October 2006.  Prosecutors claim that Drew violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Virginia Supreme Court: State Anti-Spam Law is Unconstitutional

It looks like Jeremy Jaynes, the first person in the United States to be convicted of a felony for spamming, is going to get a free pass, thanks to a decision handed down by the Virginia Supreme Court last week striking down Virginia's anti-spam law, Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-152.3:1, on First Amendment grounds. 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Boulder County Sheriff v. Unknown MySpace User

Date: 

11/11/2006

Threat Type: 

Criminal Investigation

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Unknown MySpace User

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

MySpace provided records subpoenaed by the Boulder County sheriff's department in a criminal libel investigation, commenced after a Colorado woman reported finding pictures of herself on MySpace under a fake profile named "Dirty Whore" that included information indicating that she was interested in meeting “men, women and/or couples who are looking to have a fun time.”

As of September 15, 2008, no criminal charges appear to have been filed. 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

SB Reviewed; there is almost nothing available on this as far as I can tell. TO-DO: Get more precise date; further research required

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

MLRC

Subject Area: 

United States v. Drew

Date: 

05/15/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Lori Drew

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Central District of California

Case Number: 

08-CR-582

Legal Counsel: 

H. Dean Steward; Orin S. Kerr

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)
Verdict (plaintiff)

Description: 

On May 15, 2008, Lori Drew was indicted in federal court in California for her alleged role in a hoax on MySpace directed at Megan Meier, a 13-year-old neighbor of Drew's who committed suicide in October 2006 after a "boy" she met on MySpace abruptly turned on her and ended their relationship. The boy was allegedly Lori Drew, who pretended to be 16-year-old "Josh Evans" to gain the trust of Megan, who had been fighting with Drew's daughter.

The grand jury charged Drew with conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. § 1030. The indictment charges that

[o]n or about the following dates, defendant DREW, using a computer in O'Fallon, Missouri, intentionally accessed and caused to be accessed a computer used in interstate commerce, namely, the MySpace servers located in Los Angeles County, California, within the Central District of California, without authorization and in excess of authorized access, and, by means of interstate commerce obtained and caused to be obtained information from that computer to further tortious acts, namely intentional infliction of emotional distress on [Meier].

Update:

06/16/2008- Drew pleaded not guilty.

07/23/2008- Drew filed three motions to dismiss the indictment on grounds of failure to state an offense, vagueness, and unconstitutional delegation of prosecutorial power.

08/1/2008- Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society submitted an amicus brief supporting dismissal of the case

09/4/2008 - In a hearing, Judge Wu denied Drew's motions to dismiss the indictment based on vagueness and improper delegation of authority, but kept her motion to dismiss for failure to state an offense under advisement. 

11/05/2008 - Drew filed a notice of waiver of her right to a jury trial, but the government refused to consent to the waiver.  Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 23, a defendant cannot waive a jury trial without the consent of the government. 

11/10/2008 - Judge Wu indicated in pretrial conference that he was inclined to grant Drew's motion in limine to exclude evidence of Megan Meier's suicide at trial on grounds of lack of relevance and tendency of the evidence to unfairly prejudice the jury.

11/14/08 - Judge Wu indicated at a hearing that he would allow evidence of Megan Meier's suicide at trial, but that he would instruct jurors that the case was not about the suicide and that Drew is not charged with causing the suicide.

11/26/08 - The jury returned a verdict acquitting Drew on the felony CFAA charges and finding her guilty on misdemeonor CFAA charges. The jury deadlocked on the felony conspiracy count. Counsel for Drew indicated that he would file a motion for a new trial, and the court set a hearing for December 29, 2008.  The court took the Drew's renewed motion for judgment of acquittal under submission.

12/30/08 - The Government filed an ex parte application to dismiss the felony conspiracy count (Count 1) without prejudice.  Drew responded, arguing that dismissal should be with prejudice.

1/8/09 - The court held a hearing on Drew's motion for judgment of acquittal, but did not make a ruling. Judge Wu indicated that he might issue a written ruling within two weeks.

7/2/09 - Judge Wu announced that he would be dismissing all charges against Drew.

8/28/09 - Judge Wu issued an opinion granting Drew's motion for judgment of acquittal.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

United States v. Fletcher

Date: 

09/26/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Karen Fletcher

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

Case Number: 

Crim. No. 06-00329

Legal Counsel: 

Warner Mariani; Lawrence Walters, Derek B. Brett, Jerome H. Mooney - Weston, Garrou, DeWitt & Walters

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Convicted
Material Removed

Description: 

In September 2006, Federal authorities prosecuted Karen Fletcher for transmitting obscene materials in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1462(a) and 2, after she posted graphic fictional stories on her website, Red Rose Stories.  According to the indictment, Fletcher posted various stories on the website describing the torture, sexual molestation, and murder of fictional children. The case was notable because the allegedly obscene materials were text only, and the government has never won a conviction based solely on text under current obscenity law. 

Fletcher pled guilty to six counts of distributing obscene materials online in August 2008. She was sentenced to a term of probation of 60 months, with 6 months of home detention, a fine of $1,000, and a special assessment of $600. 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

MLRC

Subject Area: 

Wisconsin v. Bachert

Date: 

06/14/2007

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Joshua W. Bachert

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Waukesha County Circuit Court, Wisconsin

Case Number: 

2007CM001559

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$312.00

Legal Counsel: 

Glen B. Kulkoski

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Description: 

Wisconsin authorities criminally prosecuted Joshua Bachert after he created a fake MySpace profile for a high school police officer. In August 2007, authorities agreed to defer prosecution if Bachert stayed out of trouble for one year. Instead, Bachert will pay a fine for a noncriminal citation.

Update:

09/15/2008 - According to the docket charge details, Bachert fulfilled his obligations under the agreement with the authorities, and paid a $312 fine on a citation for disorderly conduct.

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

06/15/2009 - updated (LB)

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

MLRC

Subject Area: 

Wisconsin v. Phillips

Date: 

05/20/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Alex D. Phillips

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

La Crosse County Circuit Court, Wisconsin

Case Number: 

2008CF000309

Legal Counsel: 

Patricia O'Neil

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Convicted
Dismissed (partial)

Description: 

The State of Wisconsin criminally prosecuted seventeen-year-old Alex Phillips of Wisconsin after he posted nude photos of his former girlfriend on his MySpace page.  The State charged him with criminal libel, possession of child pornography, sexual exploitation of a child and causing mental harm to a child. The case is pending in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

UPDATE:

On 01-26-2009, Phillips pled guilty to causing mental harm to a child, a class F felony.  As part of the plea bargain, the state dropped the other counts of the indictment.

On 3-06-09, the court sentenced Phillips to 100 hours of community service and three years probation. During this time, Phillip "is not to own, operate or possess a computer, software, modem, cell phone or any gaming system that has internet access capabilities including facebook and myspace."

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

avm 6/11/09- changed from pending to concluded.

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

MLRC

Subject Area: 

FBI v. Wolf

Date: 

02/06/2006

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Joshua Wolf

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the North District of California

Case Number: 

3:06-xr-90064

Legal Counsel: 

Daniel Mark Siegel; Jose Luis Fuentes; Martin Garbus; David A Greene

Publication Medium: 

Broadcast
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Description: 

The Federal Bureau of Investigations subpoenaed video blogger and freelance journalist Josh Wolf for information regarding a political demonstration that resulted in harm to a police officer. The FBI sought the identities of protestors who appeared in Wolf's video recording of the protest, which Wolf claimed was an attempt by the government to use a journalist (himself) as an investigative tool.

On July 8, 2005, Wolf filmed a San Francisco demonstration against the G8 summit in Scotland. During the course of the protest, a San Francisco police officer was injured, and protestors allegedly damaged a police car. Wolf published an edited version of the video on independant news site Indybay and also sold footage to local TV station KRON.

As part of an investigation into the officer's injury, the FBI subpoenaed Wolf to appear in front of a federal grand jury. The subpoena asked Wolf to produce the full video and any other documentation regarding the protest. The subpoena also sought information regarding the identities of individuals who appeared in the video.

Wolf filed a motion to quash the subpoena, claiming protection under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and California's journalist shield law. The North District of California denied Wolf's motion to quash. The court focused on federal journalist protections and held that Wolf was required to comply with the subpoena because he had not demonstrated that the grand jury investigation was conducted in bad faith.

After Wolf again refused to comply with the subpoena, the court ordered him to show cause as to why he should not be held in contempt of court. Wolf again asserted his First Amendment rights, as well as his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Wolf's arguments were supported by amicus briefs by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The court rejected Wolf's and the amici's arguments on grounds similar to those in its denial of Wolf's motion to quash. It held Wolf in contempt and ordered that he be confined until he complied with the subpoena. Wolf and his lawyers appealed the order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

On appeal, the 9th Circuit granted a motion allowing Wolf to leave prison on bail. However, the court soon after revoked bail persuant to a motion by the FBI. The court then affirmed the district court's contempt ruling and ordered Wolf to testify and reveal the unpubished portions fo the tape. The 9th Circuit's decision agreed with the district court's holding that Wolf could not legitimately refuse to comply with the subpoena without demonstrating that the grand jury was conducted in bad faith.

The FBI and Wolf ultimately settled the case. Wolf published the full version of the video online and filed a DVD copy with the court. In return, he was released from prison and did not have to testify in front of the grand jury. Wolf had served 226 days in prison, the longest term ever served by a journalist for refusing to disclose unpublished source material.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

United States v. Cogill

Date: 

08/27/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Kevin Cogill

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Central District of California

Case Number: 

2:08-mj-02089

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Convicted

Description: 

Kevin Cogill, a blogger on Antiquiet, a site that provides "uncensored music reviews and interviews," was arrested on August 27, 2008, at his home near Los Angeles on suspicion of violating federal copyright law after he allegedly posted nine songs from the unreleased Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy."

Cogill allegedly posted the tracks on June 18, noting at the time that "I always said that the more that Axl and Geffen jerked around trying to figure out how to release this finally finished album that we’ve all been waiting over 13 years for, the greater the chances would be that it would slip out of a pressing plant or office somewhere and wind up in the hands of some asshole with a blog. So… Hey, I told you so." 

According to Rolling Stone, Cogill said he acquired the tracks from “an anonymous online source,” which he then allegedly made available through a streaming player on the blog.   Within hours, however, the tracks were taken down, but a nine-song zip file containing the tracks is widely available via file-sharing sites

The FBI took an interest in the case shortly after the songs appeared on Cogill's blog, sending two FBI agents to visit him at work and at home, Rolling Stone has reported.  Evidently feeling the pressure, Cogill posted a plea for legal help on August 25, writing that, "more and more each day, it looks like I may be indicted."

Cogill has been charged under 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(C), which implements the copyright amendments included in the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005.  The criminal complaint filed against Cogill charges that he "knowingly and willfully distributed a copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution, namely nine previously unreleased songs by the band Guns n' Roses, by making the songs available on a computer network accessible to members of the public."  Section 506(a)(1)(C) makes the willful infringement of unpublished copyrighted material a felony punishable by up to three years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Update:

10/20/08 - Cogill entered a plea of not guilty in federal court in Los Angeles

11/10/08 - Wired reports that Cogill intends to plead guilty; plea conference is scheduled for December 8, 2008

12/15/08 - Cogill pled guilty to one count of misdemeanor criminal copyright infringement. Cogill also signed a plea agreement in which he agreed to cooperate with investigators.  He faces a maximum one year of confinement when sentenced in Los Angeles federal court on March 3.

3/1/09 - Prosecutors requested that Cogill be sentenced to 6 months in prison.  Sentencing is scheduled for May 4.

7/14/2009: Magistrate Paul Abrams sentenced Cogill to one year of probation with two months house arrest. The court also ordered Cogill to pay a $25 special assessment and $2,500 in restitution, with interest. 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Brittany is working on this one. -- June 2011

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

RSS

Subject Area: 

Blogger Arrested for Leaking Songs from Unreleased Guns N' Roses Album

Kevin Cogill, a blogger on Antiquiet, a site that provides "uncensored music reviews and interviews," was arrested yesterday at his home near Los Angeles on suspicion of violating federal copyright law after he allegedly posted nine songs from the unreleased -- and highly-anticipated -- Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy."

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

State of Oklahoma (Miller) v. King

Date: 

08/12/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Investigation

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Harold King

Type of Party: 

Individual
Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

District Court of the Eighteenth Judicial District of the State Of Oklahoma, Pittsburg County; District Court of Kay County (moved from Pittsburg County)

Case Number: 

MISC-2008-34

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced
Withdrawn

Description: 

Harold King runs the forum site "McAlester Watercooler," which he describes as a forum for citizens of McAlester, Oklahoma to "voice their views about the on-going City events." In August 2008, local District Attorney Jim Bob Miller filed an offense report with the McAlester Police Department against King.  Around that time, local businessman Wayne Stipe and his mother Billie Jean Stipe also filed a criminal complaint accusing King of slander and "imputing unchastity to females."  (In 2005, Stipe's uncle, Gene Stipe, filed criminal charges against King for defamation as well.)

It is unclear what specific statements Miller claims are defamatory.  According to press accounts, the offense report merely states: "Victim said the suspect is criminally libel for his comments and other people’s comments on the ‘mccooler.'"  Miller told the Oklahoman that he provided police with comment threads on the site about him from 10 dates since October 2007.

On August 12, 2008, the DA's office issued a subpoena to King, requiring him to produce identifying information, including social security numbers, for about 35 people who posted under pseudonyms on the site.

According to press reports, King filed an objection to the subpoena in district court on August 15, but stated that he gave police the identities of two bloggers — himself and another blogger who had previously given him permission to do so.  Police have indicated that they likely will not seek additional information from King.

Oklahoma has a criminal libel statute, making libel "punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not more than one (1) year, or by fine not exceeing One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or both." 21 Okla. Stat. § 773. "Libel" is defined as "a false or malicious unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, or effigy or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to public hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy, or which tends to deprive him of public confidence, or to injure him in his occupation, or any malicious publication as aforesaid, designed to blacken or vilify the memory of one who is dead, and tending to scandalize his surviving relatives or friends." 21 Okla. Stat. § 771.

Update:

09/2008 - the case was moved to the District Court for Kay County.  Pittsburg County, where the case was filed, was the county overseen by District Attorney Miller.  Kay County District Attorney Mark Gibson took over the case for investigation.

09/2009 -  Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s office agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement with D.A. Miller on a charge of common barratry,” which is "the practice of exciting groundless judicial proceedings," Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 550.  As part of the deferred prosecution agreement, Miller agreed not to seek re-election in 2010. Additionally, District Attorney Mark Gibson charged Wayne Stipe with assault and battery in connection with a physical altercation with King.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

MLRC

Subject Area: 

Third Circuit Grants Public Access To Prospective Juror Information

On August 1, 2008, the Third Circuit Court of the Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Wecht. The opinion is great news for citizen media creators, because the court ruled that the First Amendment confers a presumptive right of access to obtain the names of trial and prospective jurors in a criminal case prior to empanelment. U.S.

Subject Area: 

Berkman Cyberlaw Clinic, EFF, and Net Law Luminaries File Amicus Brief in Lori Drew Case

We've posted before (here and here) on the tragic Megan Meier suicide case, in which a 13-year-old neighbor of Lori Drew committed suicide in October 2006 after a "boy" she met on MySpace abruptly turned on her and ended their "relationship." In

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Google Execs Face Charges in Italy Over Third Party Content

Does the European Union offer web hosts any protection from liability for the content of third parties, a la section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230) or the "safe-harbor" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?  This looks to be a key question for four current and former Google executives, as Italian prosecutors prepare to launch criminal charges against them over a video hosted by

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Iran Moves One Step Closer to Ratifying Death Penalty for Blogging

Online free speech has never been well received by the Iranian government, but now Tehran is just one step away from making blogging on certain topics into a capital crime. 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Miami Judge Drops Hammer on Photojournalist Who Took Cops' Picture

“Photography is not a crime, it’s a First Amendment right,” proclaims the title of photojournalist Carlos Miller’s blog.  Nonetheless, a jury found Miller guilty of obstructing traffic and resisting arrest without violence during his encounter last year with five Miami police officers that he photographed on a public street.  As a result, Miami County Court Judge Jose Fernandez sentenced him to one year of probation,100 hours of community service, anger management lessons, and over $500 in court fees, well in excess of the three months

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

New York v. The Journal News

Date: 

04/14/2008

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

The Journal News

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Intermediary
Media Company

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

County Court of the State of New York, County of Rockland

Legal Counsel: 

Mark Fowler, Karen Bekker - Saterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

On April 14, 2008, the Rockland County District Attorney's Office issued a grand jury subpoena to The Journal News, a daily newspaper distributed in New York and Southern Connecticut that operates LoHud.com, a website providing an online version of the newspaper as well as community forums that post reader comments regarding news, opinion, and subjects of public interest. The subpoena requested that The Journal News provide subscriber information for a user who had posted to one of LoHud's forums using a pseudonymous screen name. To maintain grand jury secrecy, the court documents did not reveal the screen name or the reason that the information was sought.

The Journal News moved to quash the subpoena before a Rockland County court. Relying on Dendrite v. Doe, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001), the newspaper argued that the court should require the District Attorney to make a heightened showing of need and demonstrate an evidentiary basis for requesting the information in order to overcome First Amendment protection for anonymous speech. The court denied the motion to quash, ruling that it could could dispose of the case without adopting the Dendrite standard because the District Attorney had made a heightened showing of need through in camera testimony. 

The court directed The Journal News to comply with the subpoena by May 28, 2008.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

WIA Releases Report on Arrests of Bloggers, Does It Overcount?

According to a new report by the World Information Access (“WIA”) Project, 64 independent bloggers have been arrested since 2003, suggesting governments around the world are growing more aware of blogs and more likely to act to silence bloggers.

Subject Area: 

Singapore v. Nair

Date: 

05/31/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Gopalan Nair

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

International

Court Name: 

Singapore High Court

Legal Counsel: 

Chia Ti Lik

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Email

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Convicted

Description: 

Gopalan Nair, a U.S. citizen who blogs from Fremont, California, was arrested in Singapore for publishing insulting comments on his blog, Singapore Dissident, and in an email about two Singaporean judges.

In May 2008, Nair, a former Singapore lawyer, attended a hearing in a defamation suit brought against members of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party by Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Kuan Yew's son. On May 29, Nair wrote in his blog that the trial judge, Belinda Ang, "prostitut[ed] herself during the entire proceedings, by being nothing more than an employee of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders." In another blog entry, Nair also challenged the government to prosecute him, writing, "I am now within your jurisdiction.... What are you going to do about it?"

On May 31, Singaporean police arrested Nair for insulting Ang in an email, a crime under Section 13D (1)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order & Nuisance) Act. Nair was jailed until June 5, when he was released on bail. On June 12, the police filed a second charge against Nair under Section 228 of Singapore's Penal Code, which criminalizes "[i]ntentional insult or interruption to a public servant sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding," for comments in an email he allegedly sent to Judge Lai Siu Chiu in March 2006. On June 16, the police amended the original charge against Nair to also fall under Section 228 of the Penal Code and to specify that the offense was written in Nair's blog, not in an email.

If convicted, Nair faces a fine of 5,000 Singapore dollars and up to one year in jail. Nair has said he will fight the charges.

Update:

9/17/2008 - Singapore Indian Voice is reporting that Nair has been convicted and sentenced to three months in prison by Judge Kan Ting Chiu.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Pages