The Jakarta Post
Gerindra Party politician and deputy speaker in the House of Representatives, Fadli Zon, has joined the legal battle to defend Muhammad Arsyad, a satay vendor, who stands accused of defaming President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo.
Fadli, along with Arsyad's mother, Mursidah, arrived on Friday at National Police headquarters in an effort to bail out the 24-year-old, who has been in police custody since Oct. 24.
'This is a petty crime. This is the criminalization of the wong cilik [common people]. He [Jokowi] once said that he would stand up for wong cilik, so why are wong cilik being criminalized?' Fadli said upon arriving at police headquarters.
The case was first reported by the legal division of Jokowi's campaign team in July when Jokowi, who was Jakarta governor at the time, was engaged in a fierce campaign battle with Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto for the Indonesian presidency.
The team reported a Facebook account registered under the name of Arsyad Assegaf that had posted a series of doctored pornographic pictures with the faces of Jokowi and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.
'We will work to bail him out. Hopefully, [the police] will grant it. On social media, many people bully others, including Pak Prabowo. So why [did the police decide to] only handle this case?' Fadli said, prior to meeting with police investigators handling the case.
Fadli, however, appeared to change his mind after the meeting.
'I believe there have been offenses committed by Arsyad due to his negligence. The police have handled the case accordingly ['¦] I have also asked about the development of a number of cases and it turns out that there has been progress made,' he said, referring to defamation cases concerning Gerindra and Prabowo.
Fadli also rebuffed speculation that his support for Arsyad was aimed at interfering with the investigation process.
Arsyad has been charged under Article 29 of the 2008 Anti-Pornography Law on the distribution of pornographic pictures, as well as Article 310 and 311 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on defamation. Both carry a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison.
Soon after his arrest, Arsyad began exhibiting signs of depression.
He refused food after watching television reports showing his mother being interviewed by local news outlets.
He then received medical treatment on Thursday before returning to his cell on Friday.
'As his mother, I want him to come home. Please, Mr. President, let my son come home,' Mursidah told reporters.
As of Friday evening, the police had yet to release Arsyad on bail.
Separately, Teguh Samudra from the legal division of Jokowi's campaign, applauded Fadli's move to grant legal aid to Arsyad, but insisted that the suspect must be prosecuted.
'It is good that he [Fadli] helped a citizen who faces a legal issue. We have no problem with Fadli shedding light on the case ['¦] we will let the police investigators process the case,' he said.
Teguh also deplored efforts to politicize the case.
'If Jokowi did not win the election, people might have responded differently. Just because Jokowi is now President, the case is being exploited. We were the one who reported the case and not Jokowi,' he said.