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Man held for burning-poppy posting
A man has been arrested for posting an image of a burning poppy on a social network site.
Kent Police said in a statement that the man, from Aylesham, was detained on Sunday night on suspicion of making malicious telecommunications and that he was in custody awaiting interview.
The force does not say whether the arrested man actually burned the poppy, or just posted the photo online.
The arrest was met with incredulity on Twitter, where people mounted a fierce discussion over civil liberties. Tom Williams, tweeting as @tomwilliamsisme, wrote: "The scary thing is, the man wasn't arrested for burning a poppy - that's not illegal. He was arrested for putting it online."
Jamie's Pants, under @thisisrjg, tweeted: "We do not have a right to not be offended. We certainly don't have a right to lock up someone for offending some people", while Thom Lumley, tweeting as @Hotstepperrr, wrote: "Dear idiots at Kent Police, burning a poppy may be obnoxious, but it is not a criminal offence."
David Allen Green, a journalist and lawyer for the New Statesman, tweeting as Jack of Kent, wrote: "What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by Kent Police for burning a poppy?"
Australian musician and comedian Tim Minchin also tweeted his incredulity, saying: "You've a right to burn a (fake!) poppy. Whether I agree with the action is utterly irrelevant. Kent Police are out of line."
Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, criticised the arrest as "utterly ridiculous".
He said: "Kent Police need to urgently release this man and drop an utterly ridiculous investigation into something that has harmed no-one. It is not illegal to offend people and, however idiotic or insensitive the picture may have been, it is certainly not worthy of arrest."
Kent Police said in a statement: "Officers were contacted at around 4pm yesterday and alerted to the picture, which was reportedly accompanied by an offensive comment. Following an investigation by Kent Police, a 19-year-old Canterbury man was arrested on suspicion of an offence under the Malicious Communications Act. He is currently in custody."