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Czech journalist detained, deported from Indonesia

A Czech journalist was arrested last week for photographing an independence rally in Papua like this one in August 2011. (AFP/Banjir Ambarita)

Bangkok, February 14, 2012--Indonesian authorities detained a Czech journalist on Wednesday, then deported him for reporting without official permission from a restricted area of the country, according to news reports. 

Petr Zamecnik was arrested in the West Papuan town of Manokwari after photographing an independence rally in Papua, according to news reports. West Papua and Papua provinces are home to an ongoing insurgency against Indonesian rule.

Police told local journalists that Zamecnik said he was working for a business publication based in Prague and was doing a story on tourist sites in the province, according to news reports. News accounts cited a police spokesman as saying that Zamecnik failed to present proper press credentials to authorities when he was arrested and had entered Indonesia on a tourist visa that barred him from working in the country as a journalist.

Zamecnik was handed over to immigration authorities on the same day that he was arrested, news reports cited police as saying. Two days later, he was flown under police escort to Jakarta, the capital, then deported to the Czech Republic on February 11, an immigration police spokesperson told the Alliance of Independent Journalists, an advocacy group promoting press freedom in Indonesia.

"Indonesia's government boasts of the country's improved credentials as a democracy, yet it continues to suppress media coverage of the conflict in Papua," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's Southeast Asia representative. "Detaining foreign journalists harks back to the country's authoritarian past, not to its promised democratic future."

Two French journalists were deported from Papua in 2010 for taking video footage of a peaceful demonstration, according to news reports. Indonesian authorities systematically curb news coverage of Papuan resistance movements and the military's often controversial counterinsurgency tactics by requiring foreign journalists to receive seldom-granted special permits from the Foreign and Communications ministries.  

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