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British journalist accused of contempt of court, released on bail

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the contempt of court charges that have been brought against British freelance journalist Alan Shadrake in connection with his new book, "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock." Freed on bail on 19 July 2010, Shadrake is due to appear before the Singapore high court on 30 July.

The press freedom organisation has seen a copy of the complaint brought against Shadrake by the attorney-general's office. It consists of just a series of biased and malicious allegations that show that the case is an abuse of judicial authority.

The complaint says that parts of the book, which is about Singapore's use of the death penalty, "contains imputations against the independence and integrity of the Singapore judiciary." In evidence, it quotes around 20 passages which for the most part contain widely-known facts about Singapore's justice system.

"He was very tired and shaken when he was released," Shadrake's lawyer, M. Ravi, told Reporters Without Borders. "During our interview, he broke down in tears because of the pressure he had been under during the interrogation sessions. The police questioned him again today for several hours. My client insists that everything he wrote in his book is true."

Shadrake is facing a possible two-year jail sentence and a heavy fine if convicted.

Reporters Without Borders calls on the British government to do everything possible to get the Singaporean authorities to drop the charges. In response to a question from Reporters Without Borders, a Singaporean diplomat in London confirmed that Shadrake would have to remain in Singapore "to assist the police" with their investigation.

Shadrake was released from the headquarters of the Singaporean Criminal Investigation Department at 11:30 pm on 19 July after payment of 10,000 Singaporean dollars in bail. He spent a total of 39 hours in police custody, during which he had to sleep on the floor of his cell and was interrogated for several hours at a stretch about his book.

The police have confiscated his passport and mobile phone.

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