SINGAPORE NEWS: Australian jailed for sedition

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Photograph: Roslan Rahman/AFP
Photograph: Roslan Rahman/AFP
Photograph: Roslan Rahman/AFP

An Australian woman has been sentenced to 10 months’ prison on charges of sedition in Singapore after publishing fake news stories about foreigners on her website.

It is thought to be the strongest sentence for sedition – the charge for conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a country – to have been imposed in the city-state.

Ai Takagi, a 23-year-old Australian of Japanese descent who is eight weeks pregnant, admitted to publishing fabricated stories on the popular website The Real Singapore, which she edited from her home of Brisbane.

The three relevant stories – two targeting Filipinos and the third mainland Chinese – tended to “promote feelings of ill will and hostility” between different races in the diverse micronation, court documents said.

The prosecution said these were a bid to attract page views and extensive advertising revenue from her website. It was shut down after she and her Singaporean husband, Yang Kaiheng, 27, were arrested on a visit to Singapore in February last year.

The couple was charged with six charges of sedition and one of withholding information about the website’s advertising revenues from police.

Takagi pleaded guilty to four sedition charges earlier in March. Kaiheng has pleaded not guilty and his trial will start on Monday.