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Thursday January 25, 1:37 AM

Malaysian PM defends legal action against bloggers

Photo: AFP
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KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has defended legal action launched against two Malaysian bloggers, saying the Internet was not exempt from defamation laws, a report said.

The defamation suit by the government-linked New Straits Times Press (NTSP) has triggered criticism from media watchdogs who say it is a landmark assault on Internet free expression.

However, Abdullah said there was no "freedom without responsibility" and that like newspaper journalists, bloggers must be responsible for their writings or risk facing legal action.

"They cannot hope to cover themselves or hide from the laws," Abdullah said during a visit to Britain, according to The Star newspaper.

A legal fund is being set up to help defend the bloggers -- Ahirudin Attan who writes "Rocky's Bru" and will face court on Thursday, and Jeff Ooi who writes the "Screenshots" blog and whose case will be heard on January 30.

The suits have been criticised by international watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which lists Malaysia 92nd out of 168 nations on its worldwide press freedom index, and which awarded Ooi its Asian Blog award in 2003.

"You will surely accept that, even if they do not share your opinions, the disappearance of the blogs produced by these two outspoken bloggers, Ooi and Ahiruddin, would be a loss to the Malaysian media world," RSF said.


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