Tweets on graft allegations land user in hot water
It may only be 140 characters, but Twitter users should closely watch what they type as government officials could be watching what is going on on the microblogging site and will not hesitate to file lawsuits against politically sensitive comments.
Late last week, Junior Attorney General for Supervision Marwan Effendy filed a police report against Muhammad Fajriska Mirza, also known as Boy, at the Jakarta Police headquarters.
Regular Twitter users may not recognize Fajriska, but some of them are familiar with what he has to say in his Twitter account, @TrioMacan2000.
Marwan said that he was suing Fajriska for libel because the latter had accused him of misdeeds through his accounts, first on @fajriska and later on @TrioMacan2000.
Under @TrioMacan2000, in recent days Fajriska allegedly posted Tweets accusing Marwan of embezzling Rp 104 billion (US$11.02 million) cash held at the Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office warehouse; evidence in a graft case involving a state-owned bank.
“I know Boy. He owns both accounts. What he has been saying about me is not true because I did not steal any money when I was handling the BRI case,” Marwan told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. Marwan handled the case in 2003.
Marwan said that Fajriska, who served as the defense for Hartono Tjahajaya, a suspect in the case, should have filed a report with the police if he had any complaints about Marwan, rather than making comments on Twitter that could “hurt his credibility”.
Separately, social media analyst Nukman Luthfie said that in spite of the freedom of speech that Twitter offered, users should come up with hard evidence when saying anything controversial on the microblogging site.
“When it comes to criticizing the government, people will usually adopt a pseudonym as a preventive measure. @TrioMacan2000 is an example of that name. But they must back up the claim with strong evidence,” he said.
However, Nukman expects that users’ outspokenness would not stop anytime soon in spite of the litigation.
“People have high hopes for Twitter because in the past, they felt that they could not rely on mainstream media to have their opinions heard. Now things have changed. People can say whatever their want about everything on Twitter,” Nukman said.
Over the past two weeks, @TrioMacan2000, who identified himself as Ade Ayu S. on Twitter, complete with a fair-looking young woman, has been bombarding his 84,623 followers with tweets on Marwan’s alleged involvement in the BRI case.
In one of his tweets, @TrioMacan2000 said that M.E., a junior attorney general, had broken the law by stealing Rp 500 billion from BRI. The money, @TrioMacan2000 added, was evidence in the corruption case.
Chairul Huda, a law professor at the Jakarta-based Muhammadiyah University, said that there was nothing libelous about @TrioMacan2000’s tweets.
He said that the initial used in his tweets could not be the basis of a police report.
Marwan said that he was 100 percent sure that Fajriska aimed his broadside with his tweets, even though he only used initials. “Prior to sending his first tweet on the BRI case, Boy had distributed printed material containing the same information that would later be put on Twitter. He used the initials M.E., but it has my picture on it. I did not want to file a police report, but then I saw his tweets,” said Marwan, who said that he was not on Twitter.
Even though his police report could serve as warning to others who were outspoken on Twitter, Marwan said that he had no plans to bring others to court.
Both @TrioMacan2000 and @fajriska did not responded to the Post’s tweets on Sunday. (tas)