Malaysiakini’s chief executive officer Premesh Chandran was charged at the Kuala Lumpur Cyber Court on 15 May, 2017 with offences relating to the posting of a video on the KiniTV website.
The alleged crime was posting a video of a press conference in which a politician questioned the Attorney General’s investigation into the 1MDB corruption scandal.
Editor-in-Chief Steven Gan was charged over the same incident last November. The news site’s co-founders, both of whom are free on bail, face up to one year in jail if convicted.
Mr Chandran and Mr Gan pleaded not guilty and are filing a constitutional challenge, which is likely to halt the criminal action until a decision is made on the constitutional issue.
The charges have been brought under the Communications and Multimedia (CMA) Act 1998, which criminalises “the improper use of network facilities by knowingly transmitting contents which are offensive, menacing, obscene, false and indecent with the intent to annoy, abuse or threaten another person”.
Malysiakini’s co-founders believe that prosecution under these provisions is unconstitutional and contradicts state guarantees to ensure online freedoms.
Update: In September 2018, four months after the historic election that saw a change of government in over sixty years and gave some hope for greater press freedom in Malaysia, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court granted an acquittal to both Malaysiakini’s chief executive officer Premesh Chandran and Editor-in-Chief Steven Gan.