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Jakarta Post

Activist arrested as he was about to get into Dutch Embassy car: Police

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 24, 2020   /   04:45 pm
Activist arrested as he was about to get into Dutch Embassy car: Police Ravio Patra (Courtesy Facebook/Ravio Patra )

Ravio Patra, an independent researcher and government critic who faces incitement charges, was detained on Wednesday evening just as he was about to get into a diplomatic vehicle belonging to the Dutch Embassy in Central Jakarta, the National Police said on Thursday.

National Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said Ravio was arrested by the Jakarta Police based on a report claiming that he had been sending WhatsApp messages calling for nationwide riots on April 30.

Ravio said his WhatsApp number had been breached and he was a victim of identity theft.

“So, after we received the report, we checked the cell phone number, and we found it belonged to [Ravio]. We tracked him and found him on Jl. Lasem in Menteng, Central Jakarta. We arrested him just as he was about to get into a vehicle with a CD [corps diplomatique] registration plate belonging to the Dutch Embassy,” Argo said in a press statement on Thursday.

An earlier statement released by a coalition of activists claimed Ravio had been arrested in front of a safe house.

In response to The Jakarta Post's question, the Dutch Embassy's deputy head of political affairs, Brechtje Klandermans, said that "a diplomat of the embassy was contacted by a human rights activist with the request to meet to discuss something".

"The diplomat arrived at the agreed location at the moment that the activist was surrounded by a group of men. Later it became clear to the diplomat that the men were plain-clothed police officers who were there to arrest the activist. In the commotion of the arrest, the activist unexpectedly jumped in the car of the diplomat, followed by a plain-clothed police officer, upon which the diplomat [who had made his diplomatic status known] urged both to immediately leave his car," Klandermans said.

"He was requested to come to the police station to give a statement, which he did in order to show good will," she went on.

Read also: Government critic faces incitement charges after Whatsapp hacked

Ravio, who has been critical of how the government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, was arrested between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Wednesday, shortly after he had announced on his Twitter account @raviopatra that his WhatsApp account had been hacked. He said he was preparing to go to a safe house around midnight.

Argo said Ravio was taken to the Jakarta Police headquarters for further questioning, along with the Dutch national identified as RS. 

“[Ravio] claimed that his WhatsApp was hacked. Our investigators are checking his digital footprint to confirm this,” he said.

Ravio was released on Friday but the police are continuing the case and Ravio was named a witness, not a suspect.

Ravio’s arrest has prompted protests from a coalition of human rights groups who believe that he was a victim of identity theft and should not be arrested or prosecuted. (dis)