A mysterious South Korean blogger known only by his pen name Minerva, or his family name Park, has been arrested for spreading false information over the Internet.

Minerva

Minerva

A 31-year-old South Korean blogger who used the pen name “Minerva,” the ancient Greek deity of wisdom, was accused of spreading false information on a popular Internet board. He allegedly stated that the South Korean government had secretly ordered businesses not to purchase U.S. dollars.

“Minerva” pleaded not guilty and the case has resulted in a furor over freedom of speech in South Korea. South Korean officials deny it ever gave an order to stop purchasing U.S. dollars and are accusing Minerva of, in effect, screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater. They say that his false reports are affecting the foreign exchange markets negatively.

Minerva is popular in South Korean financial circles because he correctly predicted the downturn in the global economy and the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. It is possible that many financial professionals are taking actions based on Minerva’s reports.

Minerva denies any wrongdoing. He claims that he is a former securities firm executive who was educated in the United States. Because his negative predictions for the financial sector and the global economy proved correct on numerous occasions, his fans dubbed him the “economic president on the Internet.”

Prosecutors allege that Minerva is unemployed and never studied economics formally, only earning a junior college degree in Communication. They further allege that he has no experience in finance either academically or professionally.

The Democratic Party in South Korea has expressed its opposition to the arrest of Minerva. The Democratic Party, with the support of numerous human rights groups, is arguing that Minerva’s arrest will lead to the demise of free expression on the internet. South Korea is one of the world’s most wired nations, and bloggers are enormously popular.

Minerva faces a maximum of 5 years in prison.

What do you think? If Minerva’s reports prove false, should he be punished for disseminating potentially damaging information?