Reporters Without Borders hails today’s release of Erwin Arnada, the former editor of the Indonesian version of Playboy magazine, after the supreme court accepted his appeal against a two-year jail sentence on a charge of indecency, overturning its own decision. He began serving the sentence last October.
“Now it is proved, I am not guilty, journalism is not a crime,” Arnada said in his first Tweet after being freed from Cipinang high-security prison in Jakarta, where he spent eight months. He was jailed as a result of pressure from Front Pembela Islam (Front of Islamic Defenders), which objected to photos of a bikini-clad model.
“Despite our satisfaction faction at Arnada’s release and the overturning of his conviction, we will continue to monitor developments closely,” Reporters Without Borders said. “His case has already been the object of several judicial U-turns. After being acquitted by a district court and the Jakarta high court, he was convicted by the supreme court in August 2010, when it was asked to review the case. The judicial system must remain independent and not yield to pressure from a radical group known for its violence.”
Although it never published photos of nude women, the Indonesian version of Playboy had been the target of hostile demonstrations by Islamist groups ever since its launch in 2006 by the Velvet Silver Media group in 2006. After violent attacks on its offices, the magazine moved its headquarters to the island of Bali before closing for good in 2007.
Regarded as the world’s most populous Muslim country with an estimated 212 million followers (nearly 90 per cent of the population), Indonesia is ranked 117th out of 178 countries in the 2010 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.