Blogger Nathaniel Tan, a member of the opposition Justice Party (PKR), was freed this afternoon after being held for four days. Local sources said he was arrested for posting a link to a website with a report about an alleged corruption case involving deputy internal security minister Johari Bharum. The report was deemed to constitute a violation of the Official Secrets Act. His arrest was not, as originally said, the result of his posting a photomontage of the deputy prime minister.
Opposition blogger held over online photomontage of deputy Premier
The arrest of blogger Nathaniel Tan, a member of Anwar Ibrahim’s opposition Justice Party (PKR), on 13 July was “arbitrary,” Reporters Without Borders said today, calling for his immediate release. The police have questioned him about a photomontage representing Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak that was posted online.
“This young blogger was pursuing his political activism by peaceful means,” the press freedom organisation said. “By arresting him, the authorities are trying to intimidate Malaysian Internet users and get them to censor themselves. Until now, they had limited themselves to threats and abusive prosecutions, as in the case of Jeff Ooi. Now they have gone further and have adopted a more radical form of repression. We are worried for the many independent and courageous bloggers in Malaysia.”
Aged 27, Tan contributed to the PKR site and posted scathing comments about the government on his blog, Jelas.info. He is being held at the Dang Wangi police station in Kuala Lumpur. The offending photomontage showed the deputy prime minister dining with a political adviser who is alleged to have been involved in a murder.
He is being held under the Official Secrets Act and is accused of violating the Communication and Multimedia Act, for which he could face up to seven years in prison.
Ooi is a blogger who has been the victim of police harassment since 2002. He is currently the target of an abusive libel lawsuit brought by the management of the pro-government New Straits Times daily.