Editor sued by Lee Hsien Loong seeks donations to fund legal charges

At left, the Online Citizen logo its founder and chief editor Terry Xu at right. Photos: The Online Citizen/Facebook, Terry Xu/LinkedIn
At left, the Online Citizen logo its founder and chief editor Terry Xu at right. Photos: The Online Citizen/Facebook, Terry Xu/LinkedIn

The editor of a local sociopolitical site said yesterday he is looking for donations to fund a slew of legal proceedings he is involved in, including a defamation lawsuit brought about by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 

Online Citizen editor Terry Xu, 38, wrote online saying that he was seeking to crowdsource funds to cover legal charges and even included his bank account details in the Facebook post. Lawyers from the Eugene Thuraisingam and the Carson Law Chambers firms were among those representing Xu pro bono. 

“While I am very fortunate to have lawyers from Eugene Thuraisingam LLP, Carson Law Chambers and Peter Low & Choo LLC to represent me in my cases pro-bono, I still face expenses from the court filing fees and miscellaneous cost involved in the process,” he said.

He said that he needed at least S$10,000 (about US$7,400) to cover appeals against the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, or POFMA, which has also been dubbed as the fake news law. 

“Just POFMA appeals alone, brings my total legal filing fees and other expenses close to $10,000,” he added.

Dear all, as you might be aware I am currently involved in civil defamation suit with the Singapore Prime Minister, been…

Posted by Terry Xu on Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Xu had been facing legal actions since 2018, when he was charged for allegedly defaming members of the cabinet after posting an online article that claimed there was “corruption at the highest echelons” in the local government. 

Last year, the Prime Minister filed a civil defamation suit against Xu’s website over another online article said to include false allegations involving Lee, his siblings, and Lee Kuan Yew’s home on Oxley Road. 

In January, the POFMA office ordered Xu to correct an article that the Online Citizen had reported based on a press statement by Malaysian NGO Lawyers for Liberty alleging cruel hanging methods in Singapore’s prisons. Xu had declined to comply with POFMA’s orders. 

The trial involving the Prime Minister begins Nov. 30, out of which Xu said he is expecting “to foot another hefty sum.”

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