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Jakarta Post

Activists demand police investigate alleged hacking of government critic Ravio Patra's phone

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, April 25, 2020   /   09:21 am
Activists demand police investigate alleged hacking of government critic Ravio Patra's phone Independent researcher Ravio Patra, who was accused of inciting riots through WhatsApp, was apprehended by the Jakarta Police on Wednesday and released Friday. (Courtesy Facebook/Ravio Patra )

After being apprehended over an accusation of inciting riots through a WhatsApp broadcast and questioned for 33 hours by the Jakarta Police, an independent researcher known for being critical of the government, Ravio Patra, was released on Friday morning.

A coalition of human rights groups, which stated that Ravio is innocent and a victim of identity theft, has demanded that the police arrest the person who allegedly hacked Ravio’s phone to spread hoaxes. 

The coalition also suggested that Ravio’s arrest was a warning to critics.

“We believe that the hacking of Ravio’s account and his arrest is related to the criticism he often delivered through his social media. We demand that the police stop accusing Ravio and stop terrorizing and criminalizing critics,” the coalition said in a statement on Friday.

Among the coalition members are the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Amnesty International Indonesia and the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (IJCR).

Ravio was critical of presidential special staffer Billy Mambrasar, whom he claimed had a conflict of interest over the government’s projects in Papua. He also criticized the government’s lack of transparency in handling the data of COVID-19 patients.

Read also: The curious case of Ravio Patra: Why Indonesian cyberspace is a dystopian nightmare

On Wednesday at 2:35 p.m., a message calling for nationwide looting on April 30 was spread from Ravio’s WhatsApp account. The next morning, Ravio was taken into custody but the coalition mentioned several legal problems regarding the arrest.

“During the arrest, the police were unable to show the search warrant even though Ravio had requested a copy. The police also seized evidence that was not related to the alleged criminal act such as books, a friend’s mobile phone and an office laptop,” the coalition said.

The coalition further said that the police prevented the legal team from swiftly providing legal assistance. 

“The legal team had trouble getting information on Ravio’s whereabouts because all of the police denied that Ravio was held in their headquarters. Only at 2 p.m. on Thursday did the Jakarta Police admit to holding Ravio.”

The coalition also pointed to inconsistencies in Ravio’s status and the charges. 

“Ravio was initially investigated as a suspect from 3 to 6 a.m. on Thursday. But from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., he was questioned as a witness,” the coalition said.