KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian court has charged a blogger with posting comments that insulted a late state sultan.
In recent years prosecutors have charged several bloggers with writing derogatory comments, rescinding an earlier promise that Malaysia would not censor online content.
Khairul Nizam Abdul Ghani, a freelance computer technician, pleaded not guilty Friday at a court in central Negeri Sembilan state. He was accused of insulting Sultan Iskandar Ismail of southern Johor state, who died Jan. 22, The Star and New Straits Times newspapers reported.
He was charged with "improper use of network facilities" by transmitting comments deemed "obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive." The offense carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a fine.
The court did not set a trial date. Khairul Nizam, who was detained Monday, confirmed the charge on his blog.
It was unclear what Khairul Nizam wrote. It has been removed from his blog and lawyers and court officials could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday.
Sultan Iskandar was Malaysia's king from 1984 to 1989 under a rotation system among the country's nine titular state heads. Though the sultans' roles are largely ceremonial, they command wide respect and insulting them can be deemed seditious.
Last year, several people were charged with posting allegedly derogatory comments. One pleaded guilty and was fined 10,000 ringgit ($3,000). The others are on trial.
One blogger was charged with sedition over an article in which he allegedly linked Prime Minister Najib Razak to the murder of a Mongolian woman. The blogger has gone into hiding.
Blogs and online commentary — often offering strong anti-government criticism — have flourished as an alternative to Malaysia's tightly controlled mainstream media. (AP)