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Jakarta Post

French journalists still detained, probed

  • Nethy Dharma Somba

    The Jakarta Post

Jayapura   /   Wed, August 13, 2014   /  09:23 am

Authorities in Jayapura, Papua, continue to investigate two French journalists who were arrested on Aug. 6, for allegedly abusing their tourist visas.

Thomas Charles Dandois, 40, and Louise Marie Valentine Burrot, 29, who work for French Arte TV station, were questioned by the police and immigration staff at the Jayapura Immigration Office in relation to their activities in Papua.

The officials also examined evidence found with the pair when they were arrested in Wamena.

'€œThere is an indication that the two may be involved with armed criminal groups, especially one operating in Lanny Jaya,'€ Papua Police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw said in Jayapura on Tuesday.

Paulus said that during their visit, the two met Forkorus Yoboisembut, the chairman of the Papua Customary Council (DAP), who had just finished serving a prison term on July 21 for treason. '€œTheir [the two journalists'€™] activities in Papua could disrupt state security and safety,'€ he said.

Ramli AS, the head of the Papua immigration division at the Law and Human Rights Ministry, said the two journalists had violated the Immigration Law by abusing their visas.

According to Law No. 6/2011 on immigration, perpetrators of visa abuse and people who instruct or give others the chance to do so could face five years in prison and be fined Rp 500 million (US$42,776).

'€œWe continue to coordinate with the French Embassy in Jakarta. They have kept questioning us in relation to the investigation of their citizens,'€ Ramli said, adding that both journalists were being detained at the immigration office during the investigation.

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders said it deplored the detention of the journalists and called on local authorities to release them immediately.

'€œThese two reporters are known for their integrity and honesty. Holding them for such a long time must be regarded as a violation of media freedom. We urge the authorities to release them without delay,'€ said the media freedom watchdog'€™s secretary-general, Christophe Deloire.

In 2009, the police arrested four Dutch journalists in Papua for covering a rally marking the return of Free Papua Organization (OPM) co-founder Nicholas Jouwe after 40 years in exile in the Netherlands.

The police said the journalists had violated their tourist visas and immigration regulations.

Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said last year that foreign journalists were welcome to visit the province to observe the development in the region.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said there were a number of aspects that the government had to take into account, including the province'€™s special autonomy status that he said was not yet running smoothly.

'€œWhen conditions in Papua are not conducive, the government considers it too risky to permit foreigners to visit the region,'€ Marty said.

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