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Southeast Asia, explained

Hamza Kashgari may be killed over his Tweets. Did Interpol play a role in his capture?

Accused of Islamic blasphemy, Saudi Arabian nabbed in Malaysia
Hamza kashgari 2012 02 13Enlarge
Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi Arabian writer sought for blaspheming the Prophet Muhammed on Twitter, was returned to his homeland by Malaysian authorities before he could flee to New Zealand for asylum. Apostasy is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. (Screengrab)

Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi Arabian 23-year-old, has the unpleasant distinction of being the first person facing state execution over Tweets.

Is his situation thanks, in part, to Interpol?

After posting a series of Tweets about the Prophet Muhammed -- "I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more" reads one message -- Hamza faced a public uproar and fled his home. 

He was caught in Malaysia and was likely en route to New Zealand where, according to Al-Jazeera, he hoped to secure asylum.

He may be executed. Clerics have called for Hamza's killing in Saudi Arabia, where apostasy is punishable by death.

But is his predicament has drawn attention to the reported role of Interpol, used by the world's police agencies to share information and nab country-hopping fugitives.

Malaysian police tell Reuters they extradited the Saudi Tweeter after viewing an Interpol notice.

But Interpol tells the UK's Guardian newspaper this: "The assertion that Saudi Arabia used Interpol's system in this case is wholly misleading and erroneous.

No matter the truth, Interpol will seek distance from this case's messy tangle of religious and free-speech conflicts. And Malaysian authorities, despite the criticism they've faced for quickly extraditing the Saudi, are likely glad to be rid of him. Though blasphemy isn't a capital offense in Malaysia, the Muslim-majority country is home to plenty of voters who are unlikely to see Hamza as a sympathetic figure.

Social media's role in this case doesn't end with Twitter: fury over Hamza's Tweets was ramped up in large part by a Facebook group demanding his execution.

Al-Jazeera has a screen shot here.

http://www.globalpost.com/globalpost-blogs/southeast-asia/hamza-kashgari-twitter

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