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Singapore attorney general to sue Wall Street Journal Asia
Fri, Sep 12, 2008
AFP

SINGAPORE - Singapore's attorney-general's office is taking legal action against the Wall Street Journal Asia and two editors over articles allegedly casting doubt on the judiciary's integrity, it said.

A statement on the website of the Attorney-General's Chambers said the articles "impugn on the impartiality, integrity and independence of the Singapore judiciary."

The High Court has granted permission for the contempt proceedings to be initiated, a court spokesperson told AFP.

Facing contempt charges are the newspaper's publisher Dow Jones Publishing Company (Asia), Inc, international editor Daniel Hertzberg and managing editor Christine Glancey, according to the statement.

The articles, which were published in June and July, involve two editorials and a letter by Singapore pro-democracy activist Chee Soon Juan.

"The items allege that the Singapore judiciary is not independent. It is further insinuated that the Singapore judiciary is biased and lacks integrity," the statement said.

"These allegations and insinuations in these items are unwarranted."

Singaporean leaders have won hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages in defamation cases against critics and foreign publications, which they say are necessary to protect their reputation from unfounded attacks.

In a recent case, founding father Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, sued the editor of the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) and its owners, alleging defamation in an article centred on an interview with Chee.

The government has also banned distribution of the magazine, which is the Wall Street Journal Asia's sister publication, saying it had failed to comply with media regulations.

Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has persistently ranked Singapore in the bottom of its annual index of press freedom.

But the attorney-general said the case against the Wall Street Journal Asia was not about freedom of expression but about the rule of law.

"An unwarranted attack against the integrity, impartiality and independence of the Singapore judiciary is an assault on the rule of law in Singapore," it said. --AFP


 

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