Foreign Visitor Sentenced to Jail in Malaysia's First 'Fake News' Conviction

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The police, however, said they took eight minutes. He pleaded guilty, but said the video was posted in a "moment of anger" and he did not mean any harm.

"I agree I did a mistake because I didn't ask what the law of this country is", the news agency AFP quoted the Dane. "I apologise to everybody in Malaysia - not just to the Malaysian police".

The court sentenced Salah, who is in Malaysia for a holiday, to a week's jail and fined him 10,000 ringgit ($2,551).

A Danish citizen has become the first person to be punished under the new Anti-Fake News Act, over a YouTube video he had posted regarding the fatal shooting of Dr Fadi Mohammed Al Batsh, a Palestinian imam shot near his residence in Setapak two weeks ago. The charge against Sulaiman said he had "with ill intent, published fake news through a video on YouTube".

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The militant group Hamas has eulogized Al Batsh as a member and accused Israel of involvement in the killing, but Israeli officials dismissed the allegations. Under the law, an individual convicted of spreading "fake news" can be sentenced to up to six years in prison and be fined 500,000 ringgit (US$128,000).

In mitigation, Salah said he was a visitor, having only been here for 10 days and did not know that Malaysia had such a law.

Salah reportedly said he didn't have money to pay the fine and will have to serve another month in jail instead.

Malaysia's Anti-Fake News Act, enacted earlier this month after passing both houses of Parliament, covers "news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false", reports said.

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"The dissemination of fake news not only has affected the image of the police but also that of the nation and also caused anguish to the victim's family".

Governments elsewhere in Southeast Asia, including Singapore and the Philippines, have also proposed laws aimed at clamping down on the spread of "fake news", to the dismay of media rights advocates.

Last week, the leading independent news portal Malaysiakini mounted the first legal challenge against the legislation, arguing it breaches constitutional guarantees to freedom of speech.

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