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CPJ urges Indonesia to reverse Playboy editor's conviction

September 10, 2010

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about an Indonesian Supreme Court ruling against Erwin Arnada, editor of the now-dormant Playboy Indonesia. Arnada faces up to two years in jail after prosecutors said recently that they would enforce a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that found the magazine's editor guilty of public indecency, according to news reports.

Defense attorneys have told local and foreign media that they will file a request with the court in mid-September to have the ruling reviewed and will ask authorities to rescind Arnada's detention order in the meantime. CPJ calls on the Supreme Court to reverse its ruling, and urges prosecutors to put off any effort to detain Arnada.

"The ruling in this case is alarming because it criminalizes free expression," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator. "It also appears that Erwin Arnada has been singled out by authorities in a politically motivated prosecution. The ruling, as it stands, has the potential to seriously harm press freedom in Indonesia."

Arnada was charged in 2007 for publishing purportedly indecent pictures in a 2006 issue of the magazine. The magazine closed in mid-2007 after printing just 10 issues.

It came under fire soon after opening, facing protests from the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI. After protesters sought to vandalize the magazine's Jakarta office, Playboy Indonesia relocated to the island of Bali, The New York Times and others reported.

In comments made to the Times, FPI leader Ahmad Shobri Lubis acknowledged that Playboy Indonesia's photographs were less revealing than those printed in many other Indonesian publications. CPJ and other press groups are concerned that Arnada's prosecution was politically motivated and urged on by conservative groups such as the FPI.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court's reversed not-guilty findings handed down in Jakarta's district court and then in the Jakarta High Court, CPJ research shows. The Supreme Court's decision was made in 2009 but made public only last month, according to news reports. Arnada has gone into hiding, although his lawyer has said he is still in the country. The FPI has told reporters that it is actively searching for the editor.

For more information contact:
Committee to Protect Journalists
Phone: 212-465-1004

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