Thursday, May 14, 2009

Twitter User Arrested for "Causing Financial Panic"

GUATEMALA - Police today arrested Jean Ramses Anleu Fernández, a computer technician accused of having promoted a financial panic on the social network Twitter.

Last Tuesday, he made a comment where he called for people to remove funds from the Rural Development Bank (Banrural), after hearing the statements made in the video recorded by the lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg before he was assassinated.

Jean Anleu Fernández, known on the micro-blogging network Twitter as "Jeanfer", was arrested today at his home in Zone 8 in Guatemala City at the request of the Ministry of Public Banks. Police also seized his computer.

The prosecutor Genaro Pacheco told reporters that Anleu admitted to having made the commentary on the social network.

Anleu Fernández wrote on Tuesday, a Twitter post (Tweet) which stated: “Primera acción real, sacar el pisto de Banrural, Quebrar al banco de los corruptos” (The first real action, pull the money out of Banrural, break the bank of the corrupt.) And he added the keyword #escandalogt which is used on Twitter to mark posts related to the Rosenberg case.

The comment made by "Jeanfer" is one of many that have circulated on the social networks as an expression of rejection against the bank that the murdered lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg mentioned in the video as "a den of thieves, murderers and drug traffickers"

Like many countries, Guatemala has a law that makes it a crime to "cause a financial panic by producing, reproducing or disseminating by any means or communication system, false or inaccurate information which undermines the confidence of customers, users, depositors or investors in an institution subject to supervision and inspection the Superintendency of Banks."

The same Banking Superintendency said days ago that Banrural enjoys full liquidity and stability and called for users to avoid being surprised by malicious communications.

Edgar Barquin, Superintendent of Banks, said last Tuesday that action should be taken against those who disseminate press releases that harm the stability of banks. Anleu has become the first detainee for the crime of financial panic although Banrural is not the first bank to have been the object of negative commentary that could cause financial panic. Banco G&T Continental, BAM, and Banco Industrial have been targeted in the past by negative commentary.

Capturing Anleu is already a hot topic of discussion on the social networks of the Internet, the same networks that have managed a series of protests in Guatemala City calling for the resignation of President Alvaro Colom and his removal from office pending the clarification of the assassination of Rosenberg.

This case is reminiscent of the Korean blogger, Park Dae-sung, who was arrested in January of this year and charged with causing financial panic.

For months, under his user name "Minerva" he posted criticisms of the South Korean government's monetary policies and predicted a collapse. His predictions turned out to be correct but he was arrested and charged with having caused the economic crisis. He was cleared of all charges in April.