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Singapore Deals Sharp Blow to Freedom of Expression by Sentencing British Author, Says Amnesty International

WASHINGTON - Singapore dealt
a sharp blow to freedom of expression by sentencing 76-year-old British
author Alan Shadrake to jail for publishing a book which criticizes the
Singaporean judiciary, Amnesty International said today.  

Shadrake was sentenced to six weeks in jail
and a fine of 50,000 Singapore dollars (US $15,400). He was convicted of
contempt of court for ‘scandalizing the judiciary’ over allegations of
judicial misconduct in his book on Singapore’s death penalty.

“Singapore is answering criticism by jailing
its critics,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.
“Alan Shadrake’s sentence is a major step backwards for freedom of expression
in Singapore.”

Shadrake was arrested in Singapore in July
2010 after launching his book, “Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice
in the Dock.”

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He is being prosecuted under Singapore’s
criminal defamation laws, which have been used to target other critics
of the government. The UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression has
called on countries to abolish criminal defamation laws, on the grounds
that civil defamation laws provide adequate protection.

“By penalizing Alan Shadrake, Singapore has
drawn even greater global attention to its lack of respect for freedom
of expression,” said Zarifi.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters,
activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human
rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates
and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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