Inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar erred when he said no warrant was required to arrest former journalist Sidek Kamiso for allegedly breaching the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA), said lawyers.
"Section 258 of the Communications and Multimedia Act clearly expresses that you need a warrant for arrest," lawyer Andy Yong told Malaysiakini.
Sidek's lawyer Siti Kasim also posted a similar statement on her Facebook.
"In response to our learned IGP's press statement in that a warrant was not needed in the arrest yesterday morning, please explain this provision under Section 258 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998," she said.
Section 258 states that upon completion of an investigation, a Malaysian Commission of Multimedia and Commission officer is to hand over the information to the police.
"A police officer may, by warrant, arrest a person who may have committed an offence under this Act or its subsidiary legislation," the section reads.
Asked whether the word "may" in the section gives the discretion to arrest or the discretion to get a warrant, Yong said offences under Section 233 is not a seizable offence, hence it is not justified to exercise an arrest without warrant especially when it is required in Section 258.
Meanwhile, lawyer Syahredzan Johan said the police can however argue that Section 248 of the CMA does allow them to conduct a search and seize items without a warrant.
However they must justify why there was an urgent need to do so, and why they could not have waited for morning.
Sidek was arrested in the wee hours of Monday for allegedly posting a tweet that "insulted Islam".
He had allegedly posted a tweet on PAS spiritual leader Haron Din, who died on Sept 16.
Sidek's wife Norlin Wan Musa said the police officers, who jumped the gate of their home to enter the premises could not produce an arrest warrant when requested.
They also seized Sidek's telephone and computer, and brought him to Johor Bahru where the police report against him was lodged.
Yong said the manner of Sidek's arrest was unwarranted, and an abuse of police power.
"He is a tweet offender, there's no need to arrest him in the wee hours of the morning, intimidate the family the children. This is an abuse of their power.
"I can understand if you are dealing with hardcore criminals, you need to be harsh, but not over what Sidek has done, for heaven's sake."
Sidek was released on police bail later yesterday after the court there denied police request for remand.
Khalid yesterday also told DAP's Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi, who retweeted Sidek's tweet, to surrender to police immediately.
Ooi is expected to present himself to police today.