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Arrested for Being Critical of Government Policy

The AFP has reported on an interesting case in South Korea, where a blogger was arrested for critical commentary he had posted about the economic decisions of the South Korean government.

Although it isn't unheard of for people to be arrested for what they post online, especially where that information is highly critical of the government (or governments) in power, it does appear odd that the South Korean government took this step against a popular online commentator who had several key economic downturn predictions come true in recent months, based on his critical commentary. With the successful prediction of the failure of Lehman Brothers, local currency devaluation, and local stock market crashes, the commentator's credibility was enhanced and so when he claimed that the government had taken active measures to support the South Korean won, it was a step too far for the government.

While South Korea does maintain laws that could see a five year prison term or even a 50 million won fine for the posting / distribution of false reports and stories online, it now places the burden of proof on the government to demonstrate that the claims were false, though official charges have yet to be laid.

The anonymity of the internet allowed a jobless self-educated man to become an influential financial commentator, it was being overly critical with the government's economic decisions (at least as far as the government sees it) which led to his arrest and pending charges.

With the government on one side and the opposition, freedom of speech groups, and civil liberties groups on the other, this case has grabbed attention far more than many of the previous South Korean arrests for online commentary ever had.

12 January 2009

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