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Logging company detains television journalists

(AJI/IFEX) - Security officers for an Indonesian logging company detained three members of a French television news crew on 10 July 2009 in Jambi province, Sumatra.

The journalists were identified as Ciryl Payen, the Southeast Asia bureau chief for the France 24 television station, Gilaume Martin, also a French national, and Dewi Arilaha, an Indonesian national.

Dewi said security officers from PT Lontar Papirup Pulp and Papers, a subsidiary of the Sinar Mas Group Company, apprehended them while they were filming trucks loaded with logs parked at the company's premises in Tebing Tinggi. The company's head of security, identified as Eriyanto, also seized their video tapes.

The three journalists were then taken to the local police station. The police, however, could not think of an appropriate charge to file against them. Despite this, Eriyanto continued to detain them, saying they took video footage of the company's property without seeking permission.

The journalists were doing an in-depth investigation of PT Sinar Mas's alleged illegal logging operations to get materials for its paper products. PT Sinar Mas is one of the largest paper companies in Indonesia. The journalists previously interviewed the director of the Sinar Mas Group, Gandhi Sulistiyono, and Mahfud, the head of information for the Ministry of Forests.

AJI condemned the detention of the three journalists and called on the paper company to release them. In a statement, AJI quoted Law Number 40 (Year 1999) on the Press, which stipulates that whoever hinders the press from obtaining information will face two years' imprisonment and a fine of more than 500 million Indonesian Rupiah (approx. US$50,000).

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