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KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 - Lawyers for Liberty’s (LFL) Eric Paulsen has been detained under the Sedition Act 1948, his lawyer confirmed on Twitter, his second such arrest this year under the same law.
In a posting on the microblogging site, Melissa Sasidaran said Paulsen, who is also a lawyer, was picked up during the book bazaar event at Dataran Underground in the city this afternoon.
“Police are here at #ArtForGrabs to arrest @EricPaulsen101 and confiscate his phone,” she wrote in a series of tweets using the handle @melissa_ms.
“@EricPaulsen101 will be brought to Dang Wangi soon to be investigated for sedition over tweets. #MansuhAktaHasutan.
“Was just having a drink with friends and police came to interrupt. So efficient.
“Officer is saying they will be applying for remand. Come on la. @EricPaulsen101,” she wrote.
Malay Mail Online has yet to ascertain the reason for Paulsen’s arrest but it is believed to be over his tweets on Kelantan’s passing of amendments to its law on hudud earlier this week.
According to news portal Rakyat Post earlier today, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told Paulsen to “watch his habit and his mouth” after the lawyer tweeted his opinion about hudud.
“Who is Eric Paulsen to question whether the hudud law is fair or not? It’s a sensitive issue, why question that?
“I will review the tweets he sent out and the police will take action.
“I am not questioning the Kelantan government’s action for tabling the hudud Bill. What I am questioning now is why Eric Paulsen made statements that could hurt the feelings of the Muslims in the country?
“Who is he to say hudud law is fair or not?” the IGP was quoted as saying.
In his tweets that have since been deleted, Paulsen had reportedly urged Malaysians not to believe that hudud would run smoothly in Malaysia, The Rakyat Post reported.
On his Twitter page this evening, Khalid warned that those who are not experts on religion would be investigated for issuing public comments on the topic.
In January this year, the human rights lawyer and activist was picked up for a probe on his criticism of Islamic sermons prepared by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), which he had claimed promotes “extremism”.
Despite agreeing to voluntarily show up for police investigation on January 14, Paulsen was arrested two days earlier by a group of around 15 to 20 policemen and had his laptop and mobile phone confiscated.
After a two-day remand, Paulsen was released from police custody.
He was subsequently charged last month under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948, which stipulates that it is a criminal offence for anyone to publish or reproduce seditious publications.
Paulsen was also the first person to be charged with sedition this year following the federal government’s apparent crackdown on opposition politicians and civil society last year under the colonial-era law.
The civil liberties activist pleaded not guilty at the Sessions Court when the charges were read out to him.