SEAJU calls for criminal case against journalists to be dropped

Indonesialeaks, an online collaborative whistleblower platform, has been accused of publishing a non-credible report and one of the founders, president of the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) has had a criminal case brought against him. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the South East Asia Journalist Unions (SEAJU) have condemned the criminal case and called for it to be dropped immediately.

In early October, several Indonesian media outlets including Tempo.Co, KBR, Suara, and Jaring published investigative reports following on from a collaborative report from Indonesialeaks, which according to the Jakarta Post reported that two former Corruption Eradication Corruption (KPK) investigators, both of whom were members of the police, tampered with crucial evidence relating to a meat-import bribery case.

Following the publication of the reports, news quickly spread on social media, with many trying to discredit the investigation. Some of the media outlets have DDoS (denial of services) attacks on websites, taking them offline for several hours.

On October 23, a criminal report was filed against Abdul Mannan under the Indonesian Penal Code and remains ongoing.

On October 24, a civil suit was filed in the South Jakarta District Court against Abdul Mannan and another Indonesianleaks founder. On October 26, the lawsuit was cancelled by the plaintiff.

AJI president, Abdul Manan, said: “We are confident with the journalistic work of the Indonesialeaks report. So we will face this criminal litigation. Indonesialeaks reports are journalistic works, published by the media and carried out by professional journalists. Every objection to journalistic work should use the mechanism in the Press Law, through the 'right to answer' or make a complaint to the Press Council, not with a criminal report. We see this criminal report to the police as part of an effort to pressure journalists and the media.”

SEAJU said: “It is unfortunate that those who take exception to the report respond by seeking to suppress journalism and free expression through criminal litigation, often the weapon of choice against truth tellers, instead of well-established mechanisms for redress. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues in AJI and trust they will not waver in the face of this intimidation."

The IFJ said: “We strongly oppose the use of laws and the judicial system to try and silence critical voices. The Press Council in Indonesia should be responsible for handling any complaints made against Indonesialeaks or the outlets who published the report. The fact that the report has been carried by several outlets strengthens the journalistic integrity of the research and reporting, and cannot simply be discredited due to possible politically implications. We stand in solidarity with Abdul and our Indonesian colleagues.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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