Australian journalist arrested in Singapore for drug possession

An Australian television journalist was charged Friday with drug trafficking and possession in Singapore and faces up to 20 years in jail and 15 strokes of the cane, court documents and his employer said.

Peter Lloyd, 41, was charged with possessing approximately 0.04 ounces (1 gram) of methamphetamine and selling another packet of the substance to a Singaporean man, documents from the Singapore Subordinate Courts showed.

Australia's national television network, Australian Broadcasting Corp., said Lloyd is their New Delhi-based South Asia correspondent.

Lloyd was on leave in Singapore, according to a statement from the director of ABC News, John Cameron. The reporter has been the face of ABC's coverage from India and Pakistan, appearing regularly on the network's nationally broadcast daily news.

Singapore imposes severe penalties for drug use and possession, including a mandatory death penalty for anyone caught with more than half an ounce (15 grams) of heroin or more than 17 1/2 ounces (500 grams) of marijuana.

Officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau arrested Lloyd on Wednesday, seizing a packet of methamphetamine weighing approximately 0.03 ounces (0.8 grams), an improvised smoking pipe and six syringes, a statement from the agency said.

The narcotics bureau said Lloyd was arrested during a follow-up search after a Singaporean man was apprehended earlier in the day for alleged possession of methamphetamine. An investigation revealed that Lloyd had supplied the Singaporean with the drug, it said.

Lloyd faces five to 20 years in prison and five to 15 strokes of the cane if found guilty.

In Sydney, Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith said his country's officials have spoken to Lloyd.

Smith said the government would do all it could to help Lloyd, and he would discuss the matter personally with the Australian High Commissioner in Singapore next week.

"Australian officials have had consular access to Mr. Lloyd and that has occurred in the usual way," Smith told reporters. "Departmental officials have also been in contact with friends and family."

Smith refused to comment on the charges or judicial process.

Singapore's execution of convicted Australian heroin trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van in December 2005 drew outrage from Australia's government, and raised international appeals for the tightly controlled city-state to end the mandatory death penalty it imposes for some drug offenses.

Nguyen was arrested at Singapore's Changi Airport in 2002 while flying from Cambodia to the southern Australian city of Melbourne with 14 ounces (396 grams) of heroin.