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Reporter Drops Appeal in Malaysia

October 21, 1999

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ A Canadian reporter who served four weeks in jail for contempt of court has decided to drop an appeal filed with Malaysia’s highest court.

A federal court ruled Wednesday that Murray Hiebert, former Malaysia bureau chief for the Far Eastern Economic Review, could appeal his conviction and sentence if he returns to Malaysia for the hearings.

Hiebert left the country after his release from jail for a new job as the magazine’s bureau chief in Washington, D.C.

Dow Jones Company, which owns the Hong Kong-based magazine, said in a statement that Hiebert had decided to withdraw his appeal based on Wednesday’s court ruling.

``We are not aware of any jurisdiction in the Commonwealth that requires an appellant who already has served his sentence to continue to attend court proceedings,″ said the statement signed by Dick Tofel, a Dow Jones spokesman in New York.

Hiebert’s lawyer confirmed the appeal was being withdrawn.

Hiebert was convicted of contempt of court for an article written in 1997. His article discussed a growing trend of defamation suits in Malaysia.

The jail sentence made Malaysia the first Commonwealth country in 50 years to imprison a journalist over an article.

Update hourly