PETALING JAYA - Scholars at Risk Network (SAR), a group that promotes and defends academic freedom, has expressed grave concern over the sedition charge against Universiti Malaya law lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Sharom.
The group, based in New York University, said charges stemming from Dr Azmi's exercise of academic freedom and free expression should be dropped.
Dr Azmi, an associate professor in the Faculty of Law at the Universiti of Malaya and a columnist for The Star, was charged on Sept 2 with sedition over comments made on an online portal regarding the 2009 Perak crisis.
He was charged under Section 4(1)(b) and Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948, and released after posting bail of RM5,000.
His next hearing has been scheduled for Oct 3. If convicted, he faces a fine of up to RM5,000 or a jail term of up to three years, or both.
On Sept 9, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) issued a statement saying that several cases of individuals charged under the Sedition Act, including that of Dr Azmi, were being reviewed.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said a review was a normal procedure in any case that reached the prosecution stage, to ensure fairness and transparency.
SAR welcomed any additional information that might clarify its understanding of Dr Azmi's case and said Dr Azmi's comments were protected expression.
"Prosecution for such expression would violate internationally recognised standards of academic freedom and the right to freedom of opinion and expression," it said.