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Police arrest man for posting image of burning poppy on Facebook

Kent police say the man was detained on suspicion of "malicious telecommunications".

Police in Kent have arrested a 19-year-old man for posting an image of a burning poppy on Facebook. In a press release published on its website, the force said that the man, from Aylesham, was arrested last night on suspicion of "malicious telecommunications" following "a posting on a social network site of a burning poppy". He is currently in custody and is due to be interviewed by police this morning.

The police said that officers were contacted at around 4pm on Sunday and alerted to the picture, "which was reportedly accompanied by an offensive comment."

The news of the arrest prompted strong criticism from civil liberties campaigners.

Nick Pickles, the director of Big Brother Watch, described the arrest as "utterly ridiculous".

He said: "Kent Police need to urgently release this man and drop an utterly ridiculous investigation into something that has harmed no-one.

"It is not illegal to offend people and, however idiotic or insensitive the picture may have been, it is certainly not worthy of arrest.

"This case highlights the urgent need to reform a law that poses a serious risk to freedom of speech after several ludicrous prosecutions in recent months."

David Allen Green, a solicitor and the New Statesman's legal correspondent, wrote on Twitter: "What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by for burning a poppy?"

George Eaton is deputy editor of the New Statesman.