8Chan Founder is Wanted for ‘Cyberlibel’ for Allegedly Maligning Current Owner of the Free Speech Site
The Philippines has issued a warrant for the arrest of 8chan founder Fredrick Brennan after the man to whom he sold the controversial free speech website accused him of committing “cyberlibel.”
The Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 158 issued a warrant on Wednesday for the arrest of Brennan, his lawyer Alexander Acain Jr. confirmed to CNN Philippines. Acain says he will recommend for his client to return to the Philippines from the United States and post bail but is not sure if Brennan will heed his advice.
These charges have resulted from a complaint made by current 8Chan owner Jim Watkins, who bought the site from Brennan, after Brennan made tweets referring to Watkins as “senile” and “incompetent.” Brennan is being charged under the country’s Cybercrime Prevention Act.
“They are a malicious imputation of senility on the part of [Watkins,] a condition, status or circumstance tending to cause dishonor, discredit or contempt of [him,]” Pasig City Assistant Prosecutor Juliene Raymond Cabanacan said in an eight-page resolution issued on January 2 and received by Brennan’s attorneys last week.
Brennan, who is disabled and confined to a wheelchair, faces between 6 and 12 years in prison if he is ultimately convicted of the charges. He has become a vocal critic of how Watkins has handled 8Chan since he took full control over the site in 2016.
“I’ve tried to understand so many times why he keeps it going, and I just don’t get it,” Brennan said last year. “After Christchurch, after the Tree of Life shooting, and now after this shooting, they think this is all really funny.”
“Shutting it down, having these chan sites pushed underground, it wouldn’t totally stop these kinds of things from happening. But it wouldn’t happen every few months,” Brennan added.
Watkins, however, has contended that 8Chan is integral in the fight for global free speech and vows to keep the website up in some form to allow anonymous discussion on the Internet to continue.
“It is actually sinister behavior. Ours is one of the last independent companies that offer a place you may write down your thoughts free from having to worry about whether they are offensive to one group or another,” Watkins said after the media blamed 8Chan for enabling mass shootings.
“Power consolidation of the media beginning as radio and TV stations were gobbled up by a few strong and rich companies is now moving at a breakneck pace through the internet. It will effectively silence the masses and leave them with no place to voice their messages,” he added.
8Chan re-branded to 8kun in Nov. 2019 and was restored to the internet after being denied service by their DNS provider Cloudflare, which allows pedophiles to use their services to propagandize about the virtues of raping kids.