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Police tap journalist's telephone following report on tax fraud

(AJI/IFEX) - AJI condemns the actions of the Indonesian police and the telecommunications company P.T. Telkom in tapping the cellular telephone account of "TEMPO" journalist Metta Dharmasaputra, and circulating print-out copies of text messages and conversations recorded without the journalist's consent.

P.T. Telkom acknowledges that it released the documents at the request of the police.

This action certainly comes in response to an investigative report published by "TEMPO" magazine regarding a tax fraud case involving hundreds of billions of Rupiah (equivalent to tens of millions of US dollars) by one of the companies controlled by the tycoon Sukanto Tanoto, PT Asian Agri. Instead of assisting tax officers to investigate the alleged tax fraud, the Jakarta police questioned Dharmasaputra over the case.

AJI supports the efforts by "TEMPO" magazine to defend press freedom, which is under threat in Indonesia. The tapping of a journalist's telephone absolutely violates the universal principles of press freedom.

AJI condemns the police for asking that the text message and personal conversation records be leaked, in an effort to damage Dharmasaputra's public reputation.

AJI calls for all forms of police investigation into Dharmasaputra's work to be immediately halted. Journalists must be allowed to research their stories without impediment in order to serve the public interest by providing independent information.

AJI also condemns P.T. Telkom, as a telecommunication service provider, for being so ready to meet a police request to tap the conversations of a journalist although this required ignoring the law, which provides protection for the practice of journalism.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the National Police chief and the director of P.T. Telkom:
- asking that they immediately investigate this case and take legal action against those found responsible

APPEALS TO:

National Police Chief Gen. Sutanto
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3 Kebayoran Baru
Jakarta, Indonesia
Tel: +62 21 3848537
Fax: +62 21 7220669 / 7207277
E-mail: [email protected]

Tbk Rinaldi Firmansyah
President Director of P.T. Telkom
Jl. Japati No. 1
Bandung, Indonesia
Tel: +62 22 452 1405 / 1409
Fax +62 22 720 6757
E-mail via Corporate Communications Manager Didik B Santoso: [email protected]

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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