A TEENAGER arrested on Remembrance Sunday on suspicion of posting a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook has been released on police bail.
The 19-year-old was held after the image of a poppy being lit by a lighter was reportedly posted online with an obscene caption.
Police said the man, from Canterbury, Kent, was detained on suspicion of an offence under the Malicious Communications Act after officers were contacted at around 4pm on Sunday. The suspect was later released on police bail pending further inquiries.
The arrest provoked a staunch defence of people's civil liberties, with campaign group Big Brother Watch calling on Kent Police to drop their investigation.
Jamie's Pants, under @thisisrjg, tweeted: "We do not have a right to not be offended. We certainly don't have a right to lock up someone for offending some people", while Thom Lumley, tweeting as @Hotstepperrr, wrote: "Dear idiots at Kent Police, burning a poppy may be obnoxious, but it is not a criminal offence."
David Allen Green, a journalist and lawyer for the New Statesman, tweeting as Jack of Kent, wrote: "What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by Kent Police for burning a poppy?"
Australian musician and comedian Tim Minchin also tweeted his incredulity, saying: "You've a right to burn a (fake!) poppy. Whether I agree with the action is utterly irrelevant. Kent Police are out of line."
Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, criticised 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."
A Kent Police spokesman said: "A man from Aylesham who was arrested after allegedly posting an offensive comment alongside a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook has been released on police bail pending further investigations."