The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to drop charges against Malaysiakini under Section 233(1) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA).
"We ask that your government move quickly to abolish this law, and immediately and unconditionally drop the pending charges against Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan and CEO Premesh Chandran," CPJ executive director Joel Simon said in an open letter to Mahathir yesterday.
As directors of KiniTV Sdn Bhd, Gan and Premesh had been charged for airing an allegedly offensive video featuring former Batu Kawan Umno division vice-chief Khairuddin Abu Hassan, titled "Khairuddin: Apandi Ali is not fit to be AG and he should quit immediately".
The video was uploaded in both the English and Bahasa Malaysia sections of KiniTV on July 27, 2016.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo has said that he would look into refining what constituted an offence under Section 233 of the CMA.
Meanwhile, CPJ also urged Mahathir to lift the ban on political cartoonist Zunar's comic books, as well as nine sedition charges against him.
Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, was slapped with the sedition charges for tweets criticising the Federal Court's 2015 decision to uphold an appellate court ruling to jail PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.
The Attorney-General's Chambers also said yesterday that it was waiting for further instructions from the Home Ministry regarding the possibility of lifting a ban on one of Zunar's comic books, "Sapuman - Man of Steal".
'Stifling public debate'
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) in a separate statement, questioned the move to probe veteran newsman A Kadir Jasin, and activist Hishamuddin Rais under Section 233 of the CMA, the Sedition Act, and the Penal Code for blog postings on the royal institution.
"Suhakam reminds the authorities that the government has promised to revoke the many oppresive laws of the previous government which includes the Sedition Act.
"In this regard, the authorities must refrain from using such laws as a means of stifling public debate and right to information.
"Malaysians must have the right to know and question how government money is spent in the pursuit of transparency and accountability," Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail said.
Kadir is being probed for a blog posting claiming that some RM256.9 million was spent for the upkeep and personal expenditure of Sultan Muhammad V in the 16 months since he became the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Meanwhile, Hishamuddin is being probed for a separate posting which contained allegedly disparaging remarks against the King.
Hishamuddin, however, claimed that his blog was hacked and has lodged a separate police report to clear his name.