The Online Citizen editor, contributor charged with criminal defamation
A contributor of socio-political website The Online Citizen (TOC) was charged yesterday with criminal defamation and an offence under the Computer Misuse Act.
Daniel Augustin De Costa, 35, allegedly went to an Internet cafe in Chinatown on Sept 4 at about 7.20pm.
At the cafe, he allegedly accessed the Yahoo e-mail account of Mr Sim Wee Lee, who goes by the pen name "Willy Sum". Without Mr Sim's consent, De Costa then allegedly sent an e-mail to TOC titled 'PAP MP apologises to SDP', and signed off as "Willy Sum".
The e-mail contained an article that De Costa is believed to have written, and contained claims that the Government's highest officers are corrupt and that the Constitution had been tampered with.
It was published on TOC later that day with the headline 'The take away from Seah Kian Ping's Facebook post', and was attributed to Willy Sum.
Terry Xu Yuan Chen, 36, the editor of TOC, was also charged yesterday with criminal defamation for publishing the article.
It was reported that he failed to verify the identity of the author before publishing the claims.
It was not revealed how De Costa was able to access Mr Sim's account.
Police had initially raided Xu's and Mr Sim's homes on Nov 20, seizing electronic equipment. But at Mr Sim's home, the police found evidence that he did not write the article, and that it had instead been written by De Costa.
When the police went to De Costa's home at about 2.50pm the same day, he was spotted leaving for a flight due to depart in about an hour.
When confronted, De Costa led them to his home, where the police seized electronic equipment.
De Costa, who is represented by lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam, was yesterday offered bail of $10,000.
Xu's bail was set at $5,000 and he is represented by lawyers Remy Choo and Priscilla Chia.
The pre-trial conferences for the two Singaporeans will be held on Jan 8.
Anyone convicted of criminal defamation can be jailed up to two years, or fined, or both. Anyone convicted of unauthorised access to computer material can be jailed up to two years, or fined up to $5,000, or both.