CPJ calls for investigation into disappearance of Indonesian journalist

New York, September 2, 2005—A journalist on the island of Nias off the western coast of Sumatra is missing 16 days after he left home to report on a murder. The Committee to Protect Journalists is probing the disappearance of Elyuddin Telaumbanua, a reporter for the daily Berita Sore, and called today for a thorough police investigation.

Telaumbanua left his house in the northern Nias town of Gunungsitoli aboard a motorcycle on August 17, taking along a tape recorder and camera. He told his wife that he would return from a reporting assignment in a few days, according to Berita Sore, a Medan-based newspaper.

The journalist was reported missing on August 22, according to the newspaper and the local journalists’ group Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI). An editor for Berita Sore told local reporters that Telaumbanua may have disappeared while reporting on a murder in the district of Teluk Dalam, in southern Nias.

Telaumbanua had recently reported on alleged corruption involving local officials in Nias, sources told CPJ. Fears have focused on a possible abduction; initial news reports said that the journalist had been taken by a group of people.

“I am hoping that the authority can solve this case and that the authority could find my husband whatever his condition is, whether he’s dead or alive,” Telaumbanua’s wife told Berita Sore.

“We are deeply concerned about the well-being of Elyuddin Telaumbanua,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We call on authorities to conduct a vigorous investigation into this case.”