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Indonesia military threatens U.S. paper with $1 bln suit JAKARTA - The Indonesian military through its lawyers asked the U.S.-based Washington Post newspaper on Thursday to apologise over a story or face a $1 billion lawsuit. The story suggested that a shooting attack near the Freeport mine in Papua on August 31 in which two Americans and one Indonesian were killed might be linked to a conversation among top Indonesian military commanders including its chief, Endiartono Sutarto.
The story cited an unnamed U.S. government official and other anonymous sources who said there were intelligence reports about the conversation. It carried a military denial that any such discussion took place. "The TNI (military) chief asks the Washington Post to correct and put an apology statement in the U.S. media and others who quoted the story," said lawyer Frans Hendra Winata. "The good name of the TNI has been defamed."
Winata said the Post had 14 days to answer the request before the military took it to court. "If they don't (pay attention) to the request, the TNI chief will file a legal suit as the last resort," he said. Another lawyer for the military, Trimoelja Soerjadi, said the apology statement should be published in five major U.S. and five Indonesian newspapers at a minimal size of a quarter of a page and at least half a page in papers that quoted the Post's story.
He said that if the suit were filed it would seek $1 billion in damages. The military has talked of taking the Post to court since the November 3 story appeared, arguing that it had been irresponsible and unfair in allegations about a possible military role in the incident in Papua, Indonesia's easternmost province and one subject to sporadic violence.
The Washington Post's Indonesian lawyers have said their client gave the military a chance to counter the charges, and carried a denial, thus providing balanced reporting. "The intelligence reports (cited by the Post) have been rejected by military spokesman Sjafrie Sjamsuddin himself in the article. The paper had given him four paragraphs to convey the military's side," lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis told reporters on Monday.
"The journalistic value of covering both sides of the story thus has been met," he said. Some military officers have blamed the Papua attack on elements of the independence movement in the resource-rich province, some of whom in turn have alleged that the army was being behind it in an effort to discredit the separatists. Others have suggested the attack may have come from local villagers with a grudge against the Freeport operation.
The police themselves have not yet concluded their probe and say all possibilities are still being studied. Indonesia's Papua province lies on the western half of an island shared with Papua New Guinea and is home to the world's largest gold and copper mine owned by Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc of the United States. Papua has had a simmering separatist movement for decades and its supporters have often accused the military of human rights violations.



Posted in PT Freeport @ 21 November 2002 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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