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Malaysia To Free Canadian Journalist

October 4, 1999

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ A Canadian journalist sentenced to six weeks in prison in Malaysia for contempt of court reportedly will be released two weeks early.

Murray Hiebert, local bureau chief for the Far Eastern Economic Review, will be free next week after serving four weeks of his sentence, Prisons Department spokesman Jamil Razif Kassim was quoted as saying by the national Bernama news agency. Hiebert, whose term was reduced for good behavior, is scheduled to be released Oct. 12, Bernama said.

The 50-year-old journalist was sentenced on Sept. 11 after he lost an appeal of his contempt of court conviction. He had been found guilty by the High Court in May 1997 for an article about a lawsuit filed by a judge’s wife against the International School for dropping her son from the debating team.

Hiebert’s jailing made Malaysia the first Commonwealth country in a half-century to jail a journalist for contempt based on a news story.

Last month, several world leaders and human rights groups criticized the journalist’s imprisonment and appealed for his release.

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