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Eight-Month Jail Sentence for Facebook Post

It's one thing to be fired for using Facebook. It's quite another to be jailed for it. According to the Reporters Without Borders Web site, 69-year-old human rights activist Khedija Arfaoui is facing an eight-month jail sentence imposed by a court in Tunisia for posting a message on Facebook referring to rumors about children being kidnapped in the country for their organs.

On July 4, 2009, Arfaoui was convicted of “disturbing public order” by "stirring up rebellion by means of speeches in public places or meetings, or placards, posters or written texts ... in public spaces." Apparently the court interpreted Facebook to constitute a public space. Reporters Without Borders criticized the decision as lacking any legal basis, given that Tunisia has no Internet laws. Further, Arfaoui did not originate the post but simply passed on an already existing message -- she did not start the rumor. Indeed, Arfaoui did not even know that she'd been charged until she read about her upcoming trial in the newspaper. Arfaoui's lawyers are trying to have the the jail sentence suspended on appeal. Hopefully the Tunisian judges will follow the example of their colleagues in Guatemala, who last week rejected charges against a man who was arrested for sending a controversial tweet.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on July 14, 2009 at 01:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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