updated 5/16/2008 10:05:39 AM ET 2008-05-16T14:05:39

A Dutch political cartoonist was arrested this week on suspicion of insulting people because of their race or religion through his work, authorities said Friday.

The cartoonist, who works under the pseudonym Gregorius Nekschot, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of violating hate speech laws and held overnight before being released, a spokeswoman for his publisher Uitgeverij Xtra said.

"He was arrested with a great show of force, by around 10 policemen," the spokeswoman said.

She asked that her name not be used, and declined to give Nekschot's real name, because the cartoonist and publisher have both received death threats.

Nekschot is known primarily for cartoons mocking Muslims and leftists, though the spokeswoman said he is a satirist who targets "any strong ideology."

Amsterdam public prosecutor spokeswoman Sanne van Meteren said Nekschot remains a suspect in a criminal investigation.

"We suspect him of insulting people on the basis of their race or belief, and possibly also of inciting hate," she said.

Each is a crime punishable by up to a year in prison under Dutch hate speech laws — or two years for multiple offenses.

Police seize computer, sketches
Nekschot publishes primarily on several Web sites, including his own, but has also been featured on the Web site of Theo van Gogh, the filmmaker who was murdered by a Muslim radical in November 2004.

The cartoonist also works for HP/De Tijd, a major Dutch language weekly news magazine, and he has published two books.

One recent cartoon on his Web site caricatured a Christian fundamentalist and Muslim fundamentalist as zombies who met at an anti-gay rally and now wished to marry.

Van Meteren said prosecutors were investigating a complaint that dated from 2005. They are now focusing on eight or nine published cartoons, she said, but prosecutors are not disclosing which ones.

Nekschot did not answer police questions during his arrest, she said, appealing to his right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.

The spokeswoman for Xtra said police had seized Nekschot's computer, sketches, CDs, DVDs and telephone at the time of his arrest.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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