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Two foreign journalists arrested while covering Greenpeace operation

November 17, 2009

Reporters Without Borders deplores yesterday’s arrest of two foreign journalists – Kumkum Dasgupta of India and Raimondo Bultrini of Italy – while covering a Greenpeace protest against uncontrolled deforestation in Pelalawan district in the province of Riau, on Sumatra island. After being held by the police, they were handed over to the immigration authorities.

“These arbitrary arrests of accredited journalists are unacceptable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Do we have to point out that the police are not supposed to take their orders from industrial conglomerates?”

The press freedom organisation added: “The French journalist Cyril Payen was already arrested in July by security guards and handed over to the police while investigating illegal logging by a leading Indonesian industrial group. The authorities should guarantee the right of Indonesian and foreign journalists to freely cover the crucial issue of deforestation.”

Dasgupta is senior assistant editor with the Delhi-based Hindustan Times while Bultrini reports for the Italian newspaper L’Espresso. They were forcibly taken away by members of the Pelalawan police yesterday “for questioning about their activities” while following members of the environmental NGO Greenpeace, which is making a documentary about the company Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper and illegal deforestation in Indonesia. Thirty Greenpeace activists have also been arrested.

Although they have Indonesian government press accreditation, they were held for several hours by the police without being told what they were charged with. They were then transferred to the headquarters of the immigration department in Pekanbaru, the provincial capital, where they face the possibility of deportation for violating the foreign ministry’s immigration procedures for foreign journalists. The procedures require foreign journalists to obtain a total of 10 documents as well as a visa.

Sumatra is being deforested as fast as almost anywhere in the world. Reporters Without Borders issued a report in September ( that highlighted the difficulties and dangers to which journalists are exposed when they try to cover environmental disasters in countries all over the world, including Indonesia.

For more information contact:
Reporters without Borders
Phone: 33 1 44 83 84 84

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