SINGAPORE – The Online Citizen (TOC) editor Xu Yuanchen, 39, better known as Terry Xu, and site contributor Daniel De Costa Augustin, 38, were each convicted on Friday (Nov 12) of one count of defaming Cabinet members.

District Judge Ng Peng Hong also found De Costa guilty of an offence under the Computer Misuse Act.

The cases involving the two Singaporean men have been adjourned to Dec 23 for mitigation and sentencing.

De Costa had penned a letter that defamed Cabinet members and sent it from an e-mail account of his friend, Mr Sim Wee Lee.

The letter was titled “PAP MP apologises to SDP” and sent to TOC from Mr Sim’s Yahoo account in September 2018.

The court heard that the letter stated, among other things, that there was “corruption at the highest echelons” of the People’s Action Party leadership.

The sociopolitical website then published the letter with the title “The Take Away From Seah Kian Ping’s (sic) Facebook Post” and attributed it to Willy Sum, a name sometimes used by Mr Sim.

During the trial last year, Mr Sim testified that he had shared the passwords of his Yahoo and Gmail accounts with De Costa after they became friends some time between 2005 and 2006.

He did so as he needed De Costa’s help to compose and send e-mail letters on his behalf to various government officials, Mr Sim told the court through a Mandarin interpreter.

Mr Sim had earlier said: “I was very grateful to Daniel because, at the time, I was facing bankruptcy proceedings and also had problems with the HDB and traffic summonses issued against me.”

TOC and its various social media channels were taken offline in September ahead of a deadline set by the Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA).

This development came after IMDA had earlier suspended TOC’s class licence to run its website and social media channels due to its repeated failure to comply with legal obligations to declare all sources of funding.

Last modified: November 12, 2021