James Raj charged with posting 'Anonymous' symbol on S'pore website

SINGAPORE - Singapore on Tuesday charged a local man with hacking a council website and posting a symbol associated with international hacker group Anonymous, amid concerns about new Internet laws in the city-state.

James Raj, 35, was charged with hacking into the website of the Ang Mo Kio town council -- a district whose team of MPs representing it in parliament is led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong -- on October 28, and posting the image of a Guy Fawkes mask.

The hacking took place three days before a self-proclaimed spokesperson for the Anonymous group appeared in a video on October 31 to demand the scrapping of a new law requiring news websites to obtain annual licences.

Singapore's new Internet licensing rules came into effect in June and have sparked anger among bloggers and activists who say they are designed to muzzle free expression.

A charge sheet seen by AFP mentioned no direct links between Anonymous and Raj, who is also facing drugs charges.

According to the charge sheet, Raj identified himself as "The Messiah" and carried out the intrusion from an apartment in neighbouring Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur.

The same moniker was used by someone who hacked a reporter's blog on the website of the pro-government Straits Times newspaper on November 1.

Raj is also accused of posting a banner on the municipal website which said that one of its members of parliament was tendering his resignation.

He was charged under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act. He faces a maximum fine of Sg$10,000 ($8,000) and imprisonment of up to three years, or both.

State prosecutors said they were seeking to have Raj remanded at a mental health facility for a psychiatric evaluation after he claimed he suffered from a number of mental disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and borderline personality disorder.

Raj's lawyer M Ravi opposed the continued detention of his client and another hearing was scheduled later Tuesday.

On November 7, the website of the Prime Minister's Office was hacked and sarcastic messages were posted in open defiance of Lee's vow to hunt them down following the October 31 breach.

A section of the presidential website was also defaced the following day, but both government sites have continued to function normally.

No one has claimed responsibility for the intrusion into the presidential website.