Ai Takagi

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Ai Takagi, editor and reporter at The Real Singapore news website, pled guilty to four counts of sedition on March 8, 2016, based on four articles published on the site, according to news reports.

District Judge Salina Ishak found that the articles in question “were intended from the outset to provoke unwarranted hatred against foreigners in Singapore,” and sentenced her to 10 months in prison for sedition, reports said.

Takagi, an Australian citizen who was two months pregnant at the time of her conviction, was released on bail after the March 23 verdict to allow her a month to settle her personal affairs before reporting to prison, news reports said. She began serving her sentence on April 22, reports said.

Her husband and the site’s owner, Yang Kaiheng, was convicted in June on six sedition counts over the same articles. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Takagi read an apology in court saying she was not “fully aware” of the sensitivity of racial and religious issues in Singapore while editing the site, and admitted that certain stories were fabricated, reports said. She admitted to using a fake male pseudonym to post controversial articles, The Associated Pressreported. The 10-month prison sentence was the harshest ever handed down under the Sedition Act, which allows for maximum three year jail terms, the report said.

One of the articles in question identified a Filipino family as having stoked violence during a Hindu religious ceremony, according to news reports. Another report alleged that a Chinese woman had encouraged her grandson to urinate in a bottle while traveling on Singaporean public transport, reportssaid.

The website published mainly articles from volunteers that appeared on the site without much editorial control, the reports said. The news website was the first to have its license revoked by a state media regulatory board formed under regulations introduced for online media in 2013, according to CPJ research.

Takagi was being held at Changi Women’s Prison, according to news reports.