Police intimidate Croatian cyber dissident

This is a video from Croatia, about a news conference by Zoran Milanović on the arrest of Niksa Klečak.

From British daily The Independent:

Facebook user pokes PM and gets locked up

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Send good karma, post a photo, criticize the prime minister – all things you can do with the click of a mouse at Facebook.

But in Croatia, the last one might be a click too far. A man who launched a Facebook group critical of Prime Minister Ivo Sanader has been detained and questioned by police.

Some in the country are crying foul, sensing a move to quash cyber-debate.

Political analyst Jelena Lovric called the detention a “notorious abuse of police for political purposes.” And the leader of the opposition Social Democrats, Zoran Milanovic, said the police action endangered freedom of expression.

The kerfuffle in the Balkan country had its origins several months ago when Niksa Klecak, 22, set up an anti-Sanader group on Facebook, the social networking website. The name of the group was, “I bet I can find 5,000 people who dislike Sanader.”

Last week, though, the hammer fell. Police questioned Klecak for three hours and searched his home and computer.

Krunoslav Borovec, a senior national police official, rejected criticism of the detention. Police acted legally, he said, because Klecak’s group displayed a photo montage of Sanader in a Nazi uniform. Nazi symbols are banned under Croatian law.

Croatian police chief, Vladimir Faber, also insisted the investigation was “motivated by the content, not the author’s political affiliation.”

And the prime minister himself had no problem with the police action, either.

“There is no satire with Nazi insignia,” Sanader told Croatian state-run radio. “The photo montage, he said, “was not an attack on me, but Croatian democracy.”

But Klecak, who is a member of the Social Democrats’ youth branch, wasn’t buying the explanation about Nazism. He was convinced, he said, that his was a “politically motivated case.”

Lovric, the political analyst, said the case exposed officials’ fear of the web. The government “cannot influence internet, and that deeply frightens it,” Lovric said.

Traditional Croatian news organisations are relatively free, although they do face pressure from political or business interests. But opposition against Sanader is boiling on websites – and it has exploded since the police action against Klecak.

The government may find quashing debate on the web a bit difficult. New anti-government Facebook sites are popping up like animals in the Whack-A-Mole arcade game.

One, calling for a protest against Sanader later this month [on 5 December in Zagreb], has gathered 80,000 members. Klecak’s group has grown to 6,200 members since Friday – exceeding his original goal of 5,000. And another Facebook group, called “Search my flat, you Gestapo gang, Croatia is not a police state,” surfaced over the weekend and already has about 2,600 members.

By contrast, a group called “I bet I can find 7,000 people who LIKE Sanader” has just 19 members so far.

It is ridiculous that Sanader and his supporters invoke the official ban in Croatia against nazi symbols to justify this human rights violation. The Facebook entry used the symbol obviously not to support nazism, but to ridicule and attack it. Sanader’s Rightist nationalist HDZ party has an ugly history of alliances with neo-nazis; including in violent ethnic cleansing of Serbs and other “non-ethnic Croats”. The party was founded by the anti-Semite Franjo Tudjman.

The ban against nazi symbols is not upheld by the Sanader government against the Croatian extreme Right, like the band Thompson and their fans.

From dokumentationsarchiv:

The Croatian police director could not say if people had been arrested earlier for posting insulting contents on the internet. Asked if the police had, before the case of Niksa Klecak, had similarly arrested people for emphasising Nazi, fascist and Ustashi symbols, Croatian police director Vladimir Faber gave a very unclear answer. First he started talking about the police’s future actions, giving the impression that he was avoiding the question. But after reporters insisted on the question, the director said “this is only one triviality in the work of the police”. – Of course we conducted such actions. A number of charges have been filed in the past several months – Faber said without giving any example of his claims and then, although reporters had more questions, he left the news conference.

Besides, from the Croatian Times:

The Dubrovnik-Neretva police said that Klecak was already well-known to them but confirmed he had had nothing to do with the “Nazi” photo of Sanader.

USA: On Friday, President Barack Obama announced the creation of a “cyber czar” who would oversee the defense of US financial networks. Separately, plans proceeded within the military-intelligence apparatus to develop a Cyber Command that would have offensive-war capabilities: here.

1 thought on “Police intimidate Croatian cyber dissident

  1. Pingback: Anne Frank unwelcome at Croatian far-right school | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.