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Former "Playboy" editor does not deserve to be in prison, says RSF

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of Erwin Arnada, the former editor of the Indonesian version of the magazine "Playboy", who was arrested a month ago to begin serving a two-year sentence for indecency that was imposed under pressure from an Islamist organization.

"The vision of a serene democracy and modern Islam hailed by visiting US President Barack Obama must be accompanied by religious tolerance and respect for every kind of sensibility," Reporters Without Borders said. "Erwin Arnada has no place being in prison as he obtained a publication licence for the magazine and did not break the press law."

The press freedom organisation added: "We deplore the fact that the police and courts acted under pressure from a religious group that is trying to impose its moral views on Indonesia's criminal code. It is the press law, not the criminal code, that should be applied in this case. This mistake must be quickly righted."

The police arrested Arnada on the island of Bali on 9 October 2010 to start serving the jail sentence which Indonesia's supreme court imposed in August, despite the fact that a lower court had acquitted him.

A Jakarta court has been hearing an appeal against the supreme court's sentence since 26 October. "I don't have any witness or new evidence in this case," Arnada's lawyer, Todung Mulya, said when the hearing began. "The base for the appeal is a mistake by the high judges in deliberating the sentence," he added, explaining that Arnada should have been tried under Indonesia's press law, one of the most liberal in the region.

Launched by the Velvet Silver Media group in 2006, the Indonesian version of "Playboy" contained no photos of nudes. It nonetheless triggered a wave of protests by radical Muslim groups and stopped publishing in 2007.

"They have imprisoned me but my thoughts, my mind and my ideas are still free," Arnada wrote in a Twitter post ( http://twitter.com/#!/erwinarnada ) after his arrest.

Indonesia is ranked 117th out of 178 countries in the 2010 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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