New Hampshire man arrested for posting online comments criticizing a police officer
A New Hampshire man was arrested after posting online comments that were critical of a police officer, Seacoast Online reported.
Robert W. Frese, 62, was charged last month with criminal defamation of character, a Class B misdemeanor, that has raised alarm from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Frese believes he was arrested for a post he wrote online on May 3 that read, “Chief Shupe covered up for a dirty cop,” in reference to Exeter police Chief William Shupe, Seacoast Online reported.
Frese told the paper that he’s had issues with one of the department’s officers. Previously, Frese had been charged and convicted by Exeter police of stalking and criminal trespassing.
He said his latest charge for defamation is “bogus,” saying the police only charged him because it would lead to another arrest for his violating good behavior that was ordered by his previous conviction, Seacoast Online reported.
“They know I’ll go to jail if I get convicted of a misdemeanor,” Frese said. “They want to silence me.”
The ACLU has called on Exeter police to immediately dismiss charges against Frese.
“There are serious free speech concerns with the enforcement of this criminal statute against the speech of this individual,” said Gilles Bissonnette, legal director with the New Hampshire chapter of the ACLU. “Indeed, it appears that the police may be using this statute to suppress speech that is critical of police.”
Frese argues that what he wrote does not constitute defamation of character.
Exeter police have not yet commented on what post it was that led to Frese’s charge. The criminal complaint against him reads: “(Frese) purposely communicated on a public website, in writing, information which he knows to be false and knows will tend to expose another person to public contempt, by posting that Chief Shupe covered up for a dirty cop.”
Frese was released on bail after his arrest and is scheduled to be arraigned on July 10.
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