Thursday, June 5, 2008

Singapore Dissident released on bail

These are photos from AFP & AP of Gopalan Nair leaving the subordinate courts today. Click on each to go to source,

US blogger released on bail in Singapore

SINGAPORE (AFP) - A US-based blogger who allegedly accused a Singapore judge of "prostituting herself" was released on bail Thursday and had his passport confiscated.

A judge ordered Gopalan Nair, a former Singapore lawyer who is now a US citizen, to be released on SGD$5,000 bail (3,676 US) after more than four days in custody.

A prosecutor told court there was no need for him to be detained while further investigations were carried out.

Nair, 58, who declined comment to reporters, is due back in court for another hearing next Thursday.

He was arrested in the city-state on Saturday and charged Monday with insulting a public servant, his lawyer Chia Ti Lik earlier told AFP.

According to a court document, Nair is charged with insulting Justice Belinda Ang Saw Ean last week by sending an email which said she "was throughout prostituting herself during the entire proceedings, by being nothing more than an employee of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders".

Chia said the comments essentially repeated those Nair made in a recent blog about a defamation case filed by Singapore's leaders against an opposition party and its members.

In the blog, Nair strongly criticised a three-day legal hearing last week at which Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, testified.

The US-based press freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressed concern about Nair's case.

"Singapore's detention of Gopalan Nair for public comments about such a highly politicised case is completely unwarranted," said CPJ Asia Programme Coordinator Bob Dietz on the group's website.

"Freedom to criticise the judiciary is fundamental to a modern society. This case illustrates the Singapore government's ongoing commitment to silencing opposition voices both in print and online."

Lee Kuan Yew has dismissed the city-state's ranking near the bottom of a global press freedom index, saying Singaporeans are free to read whatever they want.

During his testimony last week, Lee Kuan Yew justified the country's strict political controls and pointed to Singapore's economic success as the "acid test" of his legacy.

On Saturday Nair had taunted authorities in a post on his blog, saying he was in Singapore at a particular hotel, and gave his phone number.

"I am now within your jurisdiction... What are you going to do about it?" wrote Nair, a former Workers' Party candidate for parliament.

He is charged with insulting a public servant, which on conviction carries a maximum fine of 5,000 dollars (3,660 US) or one year in prison.

Nair's lawyer told reporters outside court that he expects a fresh charge to be laid against his client, without elaborating.

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