KUALA LUMPUR: A Danish man was jailed for a week in Malaysia after pleading guilty to breaking a law against “fake news”, the first person to be punished under the controversial legislation.
The law, passed in early April, makes the deliberate dissemination of false information punishable by up to six years in jail and a hefty fine. It has sparked outrage from rights groups who believe it is aimed at cracking down on dissent.
Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, a 46-year-old of Yemeni descent, admitted making and posting on YouTube a video accusing emergency services of responding slowly after a Palestinian Hamas member was gunned down in Kuala Lumpur.
Fadi al-Batsh, said to be a rocket-making expert, was on his way to dawn prayers on April 21 when he was assassinated by motorbike-riding gunmen, a killing his family have blamed on Israel’s spy agency. The Jewish state has denied it was behind the murder.
The Dane, who did not have a lawyer and was wearing white robes and a green skullcap during a court appearance in Kuala Lumpur, said he was not aware of Malaysia’s laws.
“I agree I did a mistake, because I didn’t ask what is the law of this country,” he said, speaking in English, his hands trembling.
A clip of the video played in court, which lasted almost two minutes, showed him speaking in Arabic and complaining about what he claimed was the slow response of the police and ambulance service after the shooting.