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Croatian man arrested for creating a Facebook Group against Prime Minister

Categories: Advocacy, Croatia

Niksa Klecak, the 22 -year-old Croatian [1] who created an anti-PM Facebook Group “I bet I will find 5,000 people who do not like the Prime minister [2]” [Ivo Sanader [3]], has been arrested [4] for allegedly promoting neo-Nazi materials [5]. The police claimed that they found some Nazi symbols and propaganda at his home. Niksa Klecak has been then released by the police due to lack of evidence [5].
But later, according to the Telegraph.co.uk [6], a senior police official has rejected criticism of the detention, arguing that the “Police acted legally […] because Mr Klecak's group displayed a photo montage of Mr Sanader in a Nazi uniform. Nazi symbols are banned under Croatian law,” he said.

So far, 14.186 members have joined the group, instead of the 5 thousand that Niksa Klecak wanted to gather. Croatian political analysts described the detention as a “politically motivated case [6]” and a “notorious abuse of police for political purposes,” since Niksa Klecak is the president of one of the Social Democrats’ youth branches [5].

According to the Telegraph [6], opposition against Mr Sanader had been growing online:

The number of anti-government Facebook sites has grown rapidly over the weekend. One, which calls for a protest against Mr Sanader later this month, has gathered 80,000 members and Mr Klecak's group has grown to 6,200 members since Friday.

croatia-Prime-Minister.jpg

A photo of Mr Sanader posted on Facebook Group “I bet I will find 5,000 people who do not like the Prime minister [2]

The following is a translation of a post published on the Corriere della Sera [7] and kindly provided by our colleague Paolo d'Urbano [8] from Global Voices in Italiano [9]:

Man Arrested for Creating a Facebook Group
A Croatian blogger launched a community called “I bet I can find 5,000 people that hate the Prime Minister”

MILAN – The police arrested him early this week, first because of nazi symbols found in his home (though no evidence was provided), and then for possessing paedo-pornographic material: Nikša Klecak, Croatian citizen, unleashed the anger of institutions for an initiative on Facebook [5], where he created a group called: «I bet I can find 5,000 people that hate the Prime minister [10]». The Premier at issue is Ivo Sanader, recently at the centre of many disputes about his economic policies and the recrudescence of tensions with Serbia. Naturally, a new group calling for the blogger's release [11] was launched on Facebook, where its members overtly hint at wanna-be Gestapo agents and the enforcement of a liberticide atmosphere. Klecak was eventually able to collect more than 7,000 subscriptions, but people is weary of police's persecution against citizens.

FACEBOOK PROTESTS – Actually, voicing the dissent through social networking sites, using web 2.0 media to gather enemies besides allies, is nowadays a tried and tested tool for activism in countries under censorship, like Egypt [12]. In Western countries, there are hundreds of groups like «I bet I can find 1.000.000 people that hate George Bush? [13]». In that case, given that the significance of the US President is higher, the figures are quite different, but the aim of sharing even hatred perfectly matches with Nikša Klecak's strategy. Also Italy has similar groups lashing out against Gelmini, Berlusconi, or Veltroni. The blogger has now been released, but it is important to underline his political affiliation, since he is a representative of the SDP (Social Democratic Party), the opposition party to the Croatian government.