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Press freedom in Malaysia: Website editor charged for airing content accusing PM of corruption

Gan was charged under a law prohibiting transmission of "obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive" content. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory Malaysia Nov 18, 2016, 12.11 PM (IST)

The editor of Malaysia's leading independent website was charged with violating a communications law on Friday over airing of a news video that accused Prime Minister Najib Razak of corruption. 

Malaysiakini's editor-in-chief Steven Gan was charged in a special court for internet offences for airing the video on its site KiniTV in July, that featured a news conference in which a former ruling-party member criticised attorney general Mohamed Apandi Ali. 

Gan was charged under a law prohibiting transmission of "obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive" content. The conviction was could bring a year in jail. The website's chief executive, Premesh Chandran too faces similar charges. 

The move was swiftly condemned by Human Rights Watch as a "serious violation of freedom of the press". The opposition also accused Najib of ratcheting up pressure on critics and the media to silence the furore over the financial scandal.

The attorney general had caused an uproar in January by abruptly clearing the PM of wrongdoing in receiving $681 million in mysterious deposits into his personal bank account. The government claims it was a "personal gift" from the Saudi royal family that Najib returned. 

(WION with inputs from AFP)
 

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