Man accused of writing defamatory TOC letter allegedly sent it from someone else’s email account

The Online Citizen front page.
The Online Citizen front page.

After receiving his charge sheet yesterday, Terry Xu — editor of socio-political website The Online Citizen — has been charged with criminal defamation in court today for publishing an open letter that accused members of the Cabinet of Singapore of corruption.

New details, however, reveal more incriminating information about the person accused of submitting the letter to Xu for publishing on TOC. The article that was signed off by a “Willy Sum” was allegedly written by a man named Daniel De Costa, who is also accused of using someone else’s email address to send the strongly-worded letter.

De Costa has since been charged with unauthorized access to computer material on top of criminal defamation.

The email account

According to a TODAY report, the police had traced the email to a man by the name of Sim Wee Lee and raided his house on Nov 20 to seize his electronic devices as part of its investigations. The probe lead the police to find out that De Costa managed to gain access to Sim’s Yahoo email account and used it to send articles to TOC without Sim’s consent.

The letter that eventually got published was said to have been sent to TOC on Sept 4 from an internet cafe in Chinatown. De Costa has been accused of sending the letter knowing that it would harm the reputation of the Cabinet.

The letter was approved for publishing on TOC on the same day, but it was taken down after the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) sent an order to Xu to remove it. IMDA filed a police report against the publication on Oct 4.

The pre-trial conference has been set for Jan 8. Both Xu and De Costa could face up to two years in jail and/or a fine for criminal defamation. De Costa, however, faces a heavier penalty with an additional two years in jail and a $5,000 fine for computer crime.

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