Pacific Media Watch

2 September 2014

WEST PAPUA: Arrested French journalists remain in detention

A Free West Papua Campaign video on a protest in London this week calling for the immediate release of the detained journalists.

JAYAPURA (Jakarta Globe / Pacific Media Watch): Indonesian immigration officials have extended the detention period for two arrested French journalists accused of violating the terms of their tourist visas by carrying out reporting work in Papua.

“We will extend their detention to complete their dossiers, which we’re working on,” Gardu Tampubolon, head of the Jayapura immigration office, was quoted as saying by state-run news agency Antara on Monday.

The immigration office also rejected the request to place the two journalists, Thomas Dandois, 40, and Valentine Bourrat, 29, under “city arrest,” which would mean they’re allowed to leave jail but not the city.

Dandois and Bourrat, who both work for the French-German TV channel Arte, were arrested by police in a hotel in Wamena on August 6, along with three alleged pro-independence campaigners from the Free Papua Organization (OPM). The journalists are currently being held at the immigration detention center in Jayapura.

Gardu said that officials were questioning witnesses in Wamena.

Besides the immigration violation, the two may also face subversion charges because of the OPM connection.

In May 2010, two other journalists who also worked for Arte were arrested when covering a protest rally in front of the Papua Regional Legislative Council (DPRD).

These journalists, Baudouin Koenig and Carole Lorthiois, were also accused of violating the terms of their visas and later deported.

The Indonesian government generally does not allow foreign journalists to report from Papua, citing the dangers emanating from a decades-long, low-level insurgency.

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Pacific Media Watch

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