Danish national first to be convicted of Malaysia fake news law

A Danish national has been convicted of “with ill intent, publishing fake news through a video on YouTube”. That makes him the first person in Malaysia to be convicted of the new Anti-Fake News Act, according to Reuters.

Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, 46, is originally from Yemen, but is a Danish national. In the video in question, he accused the police of taking 50 minutes to respond to the shooting of a Palestinian lecturer on April 21. A shooting that took place in Malaysia. According to the police, it took them 8 minutes to respond to the distress calls.

Mr. Sulaiman was unrepresented in the court and immediatly pleaded guilty, saying “I agreed I made a mistake… I seriously apologize to everybody in Malaysia, not just in the Malaysian police.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Sulaiman was fined 10,000 ringgit ($2,552), but being unable to pay the fine, he chose to spend a month in jail instead.

Being convicted of the spreading of fake news can at most lead to a fine of 500,000 ringgit ($128,000) and six years in prison.

The law has been heavily critizised for the possibility to use it to curb dissent and free speech ahead of Malaysia’s May 9 general election.

The Anti-Fake News Act defines fake news as “news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false” and included features, visuals and audio recordings.

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