Indonesia: Police arrest former chief editor of local online media

The special crimes investigation directorate of South Kalimantan police arrested Diananta Putra Sumedi, former chief editor of local online media, banjarhits.id, despite the Indonesian Press Council resolving the dispute in January, 2020. The International Federation of Journalist (IFJ) has backed its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia to call on the police to release Diananta and drop the case immediately.

Former chief editor of local online media, banjarhits.id Diananta Putra Sumedi with his lawyer. Credit: AJI Balikpapan

Diananta was arrested on Monday, May 4 after a 4-hour interrogation. The police rejected an appeal filed by Diananta’s lawyer to suspend the detention, arguing Diananta is unlikely to cooperate and may eliminate evidence. He was charged under the Electronic Information and Transactions Law after banjarhits.id, a partner of national news media Kumparan, published an article on a land conflict entitled Johnlin seizes land, Dayak complains to the South Kalimantan Police on November 9, 2019. If found guilty, Diananta faces up to 6 years in prison.

Following the publishing of his article, Diananta was reported by Sukirman from a Dayak community council, the Kahiringan Adherents Assembly, because the article might cause hatred towards certain ethnic groups. Sukirman filed his report to South Kalimantan police and to the Indonesian Press Council. On January 9, the Press Council decided that the article breached article 8 of the code of journalism ethics. On February 5 the Press Council recommended that kumparan.com, the media responsible for the article, publish a right of reply, delete the article and explain to the readers why the newsroom deleted the article from the website. Kumparan and banjarhits.id complied with all the recommendations from the Press Council.

Since beginning of March, banjarhits.id is no longer a partner of Kumparan, having closed its operations.

AJI said: “According to the memorandum of understanding signed by Press Council and the Chief of National Police, it is clear that every dispute related with journalism should be settled in the Press Council. AJI condemns the arrest which shows the fact that police neglected the MoU and do not respect the press freedom.”

IFJ said: IFJ has seen continued efforts to criminalise journalists in Indonesia. The Press Council has a clear complaints mechanism for solving disputes, and this has been ignored.  IFJ urges the police to release Diananta immediately, respect decisions made by the Press Council and ensure the safety of journalists in the country.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

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

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