Editor of The Online Citizen questioned by police over alleged criminal defamation

His electronic equipment were all seized in a police raid on his home.

Matthias Ang| November 20, 06:20 PM

The editor of The Online Citizen, a citizen journalism website, had his publishing equipment seized and was brought in for police questioning on Tuesday Nov. 20.

In the following post to the site's Facebook page, an administrator said the site will be "on hiatus for the time being", with "no confirmed date of return" provided:

The editor, Terry Xu, has been understood to be a one-man operation on the website for some time now. According to the post, he is being investigated for an alleged offence of criminal defamation.

According to the post, five police officers showed up at his house on Tuesday morning and seized his desktop computer, mobile devices and laptops.

Two other posts from activist Kirsten Han and independent filmmaker Lynn Lee said Xu has been at Police Cantonment Complex for questioning since 3pm:

What is Section 21 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code?

Section 21 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code refers to the power of the police to require the attendance of witnesses.

Here's what the law states in full:

"In conducting an investigation under this Part, a police officer may issue a written order requiring anyone within the limits of Singapore, who appears to be acquainted with any of the facts and circumstances of the case, to attend before him, and that person must attend as required."

And what is criminal defamation?

Criminal defamation is different from civil defamation (where person A takes person B to court claiming that B slandered A, even if the defamation wasn't intended) in that the person who defamed the other person did so with clear and malicious intent.

In Section 499A of the Penal Code:

Screenshot from Singapore Statutes

Anyone found guilty of criminal defamation can be jailed for up to two years, with or without a fine.

This is a developing story.

Top image screenshot from the Online Citizen.