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Two foreign journalists arrested while covering Greenpeace rally

(AJI/IFEX) - Indonesian police arrested two foreign journalists on 15 November 2009 in Riau province, Sumatra, while they were covering a Greenpeace protest rally.

The two journalists were identified as Kumkum Dasgupta, senior assistant editor of the "Hindustan Times", and Raimondo Bultrini, a correspondent for "Itallia L'Espresso". They were arrested while reporting on the Greenpeace rally in Pelalawan, Riau, at 3:00 pm local time. Some 30 Greenpeace activists were also arrested.

The Pelalawan police forced the two journalists and Greenpeace activists to follow them to the police station to "ask them for some information about their activity." Both journalists said the police did not show an arrest warrant. As of 17 November, they were still in detention at the police station.

Both Kumkum and Raimondo told the police that they had a permit from the Indonesian government to cover the event. The police, however, ignored their claim.

The police said they arrested the Greenpeace activists, some of whom were subsequently released, because they had conducted an illegal activity on the private property of Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper Limited, namely, making a documentary film on alleged illegal logging. In 2007, this company also sued an Indonesia daily, "Koran Tempo", for publishing an investigative report on the company's alleged illegal logging activities. The Southern Jakarta District Court fined the daily US$150,000.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) condemns the arrest of the two reporters. Journalists are protected under Law Number 40/1999 on the Press. Any violation of this law is subject to a two-year prison term and a penalty of US$100,000.
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