June 2, 2008 / 11:39 AM / 11 years ago

U.S. lawyer charged in Singapore for insulting judge

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A U.S. lawyer was charged in a Singapore court on Monday for allegedly insulting a judge in an email and on his website, court documents showed.

The sun sets over Singapore March 27, 2008. REUTERS/Pablo Sanchez

Gopalan Nair, who runs a law firm in California and was previously a Singapore citizen, was arrested last Friday and charged on Monday for “threatening, abusing or insulting a public servant” in an email he circulated and posted on his blog, singaporedissident.blogspot.com, official documents showed.

Nair was not sentenced and will be held in custody for 7 days pending further investigations, his lawyer Chia Ti Lik said.

Under this charge, Nair faces a maximum fine of S$5,000 ($3,671) or a jail term of one year if he is found guilty.

“He is feeling okay, but he is worried about his job situation in the U.S.,” Chia told reporters.

Nair was in Singapore last week to attend a 3-day hearing presided over by Judge Belinda Ang.

The hearing was to determine defamation damages to be paid by the leader of an opposition party to the city-state’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

In an email sent to the media and Singapore’s attorney-general, Nair accused the judge of being biased towards the plaintiffs during the hearing.

The court documents showed Nair’s email said “judge Belinda Ang was throughout prostituting herself during the entire proceedings”.

Nair had on Friday posted his telephone number and location in Singapore on his blog, daring Lee Kuan Yew and the police to come after him.

Nair, a critic of Singapore’s ruling party, stood for elections in 1991 as a member of the opposition Workers’ Party. He was later found guilty of contempt of court stemming from an election rally speech and made to pay S$21,000 in legal costs and fines.

Protests are rare in Singapore as the city-state has strict laws against public gatherings and leaders of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) have successfully sued opposition leaders for defamation.

Singapore’s political landscape has been dominated by the PAP since its independence in 1965.

Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Neil Chatterjee and Jerry Norton

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