Police seize equipment from The Online Citizen in defamation investigation

PHOTO: Screenshot from The Online Citizen
PHOTO: Screenshot from The Online Citizen

Police on Tuesday (20 November) seized equipment such as desktop computers, mobile devices and laptops from the residence of Terry Xu, executive editor of long-running socio-political website The Online Citizen (TOC).

In a statement, the police said the TOC article ‘The take away from Seah Kian Ping’s Facebook post’ “made serious allegations that the Government’s highest officers are corrupt and that the Constitution has been tampered with”. The article has been removed.

The police confirmed that a report has been lodged against the website and the author of the article. They are being investigated for the offence of criminal defamation, said the police, adding that related electronic equipment such as laptops and handphones were seized.

TOC confirmed in a post on its Facebook page at about 1.45pm about the seizure and investigation, saying it will be “on hiatus for the time being as all electronic equipment used for the purpose of the website have been seized”.

It added, “The equipment, which include desktop, mobile devices and laptops, was seized at the residence of Terry Xu in the presence of five police officers this morning. No confirmed date of return has been given as investigation will take some time to conclude.”

Kirsten Han, freelance journalist and editor-in-chief of online journalism platform New Naratif, tweeted at around 2.05pm about the incident at Xu’s house.

Xu was uncontactable when Yahoo News Singapore tried to reach him via his mobile phone.

Founded by Andrew Loh in 2006, TOC is one of the longest-running independent online media platforms in Singapore.

In 2011, the Singapore Registry of Political Donations gazetted the platform as a political organisation, noting that the editors of the website organised online and offline campaigns to change legislation and government policies.

Under the Political Donations Act, political entities cannot receive funds from foreign contributors and anonymous contributions above S$5,000.

In February 2018, TOC was de-gazetted as a “political association”, as it is currently run by only Xu.

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