2010/07/21

Watchdog criticises Singapore over case of British

SINGAPORE, July 21, 2010 (AFP) - Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has urged London to "do everything possible" to prevent Singapore from charging the British author of a book on executions in the city-state.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the Paris-based group known by its French acronym RSF dismissed allegations against Alan Shadrake, 75, who was arrested Sunday after launching a book critical of Singaporean justice.

Shadrake, who lives in neighbouring Malaysia and Britain, is out on bail ahead of a court hearing on July 30 when he is expected to be charged over the publication of his book "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock".

RSF said the charges expected to be laid against Shadrake by the Attorney-General's Chambers were "just a series of biased and malicious allegations that show that the case is an abuse of judicial authority".

"Reporters Without Borders calls on the British government to do everything possible to get the Singaporean authorities to drop the charges," RSF said.

The British High Commission (embassy) in Singapore is providing consular assistance to Shadrake.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Chambers, which prosecutes state cases, said the office had no immediate reaction to the RSF statement.

The Briton, expected to be charged with criminal defamation and contempt of court, was bailed out by Singaporean activists early Tuesday after undergoing police interrogation.

Rachel Zeng, a local human rights activist close to Shadrake, said the author was summoned Tuesday by the police to an investigation session lasting nine hours, and was due to return Wednesday for another round of questioning.

A police spokesman confirmed that Shadrake had been "called to assist in further investigations" on Tuesday.

Zeng said the book was selling briskly across the border in Johor Bahru, a Malaysian city frequently visited by Singaporeans.

Shadrake's book alleges double standards in Singapore's use of the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging for crimes like murder and drug trafficking.