New York, June 23, 2011–Jailed Indonesian publisher Erwin Arnada was acquitted by the Supreme Court Wednesday of the public indecency charges against him, according to local and international media reports. Arnada was also the editor of the now-dormant Playboy Indonesia, which had appeared for six issues on Indonesia’s newsstands in 2006.
Arnada’s lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, told Reuters that Arnada would be released soon. The English-language Jakarta Globe quoted officials in the prosecutor’s office as saying that Arnada would be released during business hours on Wednesday.
CPJ welcomes the court’s ruling, while remaining critical of its decision to jail him in the first place. CPJ is monitoring the situation in Jakarta to ensure that Arnada is indeed released Wednesday as ordered by the court.
Arnada had been incarcerated after ignoring orders to surrender after being sentenced in August 2010. The court had been reviewing Arnada’s case since then. On September 30 2010, CPJ wrote to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono calling for Arnada to be freed as the court made its decision. He has been held in the high-security Cipinang prison since October 9, 2010.
“The jailing of Erwin Arnada in a high-security prison was politically motivated and should never have happened,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Now that he has been acquitted, we want to see his immediate release.”
The case has undergone a series of legal reversals. In its ruling against Arnada, the Supreme Court’s reversed the not-guilty findings handed down in Jakarta’s district court and then in the Jakarta High Court. The Supreme Court’s decision was made in 2009 but made public only in 2010, under pressure from conservative Islamist groups.
Playboy Indonesia 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 before going out of print.