Thursday, July 9, 2009

Charges Ordered Dropped Against Twitter user Jean Anleu

Yesterday, the Third Court of Appeals decided that the case against Guatemalan Twitter user, "jeanfer" be halted and the bail of Q50,000 be returned. This case against Twitter user "jeanfer", Jean Ramsés Anleu Fernández, has become famous around the world. It is believed that Jean Anleu is the first person ever to be arrested for a "tweet" on Twitter.

The case began in May of 2009 during the presidential scandal in Guatemala where slain attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg had left a video tape wherein he claims that President Colom was involved in his killing and that Banrural, a major bank in Guatemala, was also involved in the killing and other corruption. The bank, Banrural, reported to the Superintendent of Banks on May 13th, that more than Q500 million had been withdrawn by frightened or angry customers.

At the time this was happening, hundreds, maybe thousands of people were making comments on Twitter, on blogs, and forums, and other online social media, discussing the Rosenberg case and the charges. One of those people was "jeanfer" who wrote a tweet suggesting that customers pull their money out of Banrural. For some reason, the Ministry of Banks decided to make an example of Jean Anleu, who was arrested for his "tweet" and jailed. The online community raised the required Q50,000 bail, but Anleu remained under house arrest, unable travel, and was facing 5 to 10 years in prison.

The court of appeals decided in Anleu's favor, stating that the case was without merit because the financial panic surrounding Banrural was in fact caused by the Rosenberg video tape and not by Jean Anleu's one line comment on Twitter. The court ordered Anleu's bail be returned, that his house arrest, travel restriction, and reporting requirements all be dropped.

The Fiscalia (prosecutors office) now has three days in which to appeal the decision.