Defamation ruling reversed against Time Asia in Indonesia

Indonesia’s Supreme Court reversed its own 2007 ruling on April 16, 2009, and dismissed a $106 million case against the Hong Kong-based Time Warner publication that had been filed by the country’s late President Suharto and continued by his heirs. 

The decision marked the end of a lawsuit launched shortly before Suharto’s death in 1999, a few months after the magazine’s May 1999 cover story that reported on the alleged corruption of the leader’s regime, which lasted for 32 years. Suharto initially asked for $27 billion in damages, though the amount awarded shrank as the case made its way through the court system.  

When the decision was handed down, one of the judges said, “Basically, everyone has the right to hold opinion, including different views with others. Therefore, the media in performing their function could possibly (express contrary opinions). That is the manifestation of democracy and openness. The only obligation for media is to report with clear source although there is a possibility of differences in opinion between the reporter and the object of the report.”