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Media advocate acquitted of defamation

(AJI/IFEX) - On 14 September 2009, an Indonesian court found journalist and free expression advocate Upi Asmaradhana not guilty of defaming a police commander.

A district court in Makassar, Celebes, Indonesia, ordered the release of Upi, who is also a member of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI). The court determined that Upi did not make any defamatory statement against Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto, former commander of the South Sulawesi Regional Police Office.

Gen. Sisno charged Upi with defamation on 10 November 2008 after the journalist organized rallies against the police officer to protest his statements calling on government officials to sue journalists.

According to AJI, this action by Gen. Sisno ran counter to the Press Law's provision encouraging anybody who felt slighted by the media to instead send letters to the editor or use the Press Law's complaint and resolution procedures.

AJI president Nezar Patria welcomed the court's decision. AJI had condemned the general's actions and issued a demand to the South Sulawesi Regional Police Office to make full use of Law No. 40/1999 on the Press and Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution on freedom of expression and opinion. It also called on the chief of the South Sulawesi Regional Office to take matters proportionally instead of abusing his power to repress journalists or any member of civil society for merely exercising his or her constitutional rights.
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