[JURIST] A Malaysian cartoonist known for his political caricatures was charged Friday with nine counts of sedition over a series of tweets criticizing the country’s judiciary. Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, popularly referred to as Zunar, could be sentenced [AP report] to up to 43 years in jail if found guilty on all nine charges. The tweets, which criticized the judiciary for sentencing opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in prison on sodomy charges, were posted on Zunar’s public Twitter page [media website], which also includes this short bio, “Political Cartoonist – To Fight Through Cartoon – My cartoons are directed towards fighting the tyranny and corruption, of the government of Malaysia.” The Malaysian Sedition Act criminalizes promoting hatred against the government.
Limiting free speech in regards to political expression and criticism is a controversial issue worldwide. In March Malaysian officials arrested [JURIST report] the daughter of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim [BBC profile] for alleged acts of sedition. She was reportedly arrested and detained specifically for a speech she made criticizing the jailing of her father. Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction on sodomy charges was upheld [JURIST report] in February, as was his five-year prison sentence. Many critics in Malaysia and abroad have claimed the arrest is a politically driven act to fight the opposing potential threat of the People’s Justice party.