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Govt expels US think tank expert JAKARTA - A leading American expert on Indonesia's terrorist groups has been ordered out of the country after authorities accused her of violating visa regulations. Sidney Jones, however, had earlier said the national intelligence agency chief had complained that her International Crisis Group published false reports that had damaged the country's image. Jones said she was issued with a deportation order late Tuesday. It cited immigration violations, and was effective immediately, she said.
Immigration department spokesman Ade Endang Dahlan confirmed the order, saying Jones had violated the terms of her work permit. He gave no more details. Earlier, authorities said they might not renew Jones' visa, which expires on June 10. It was unclear why the government apparently decided to stiffen its actions against her. ``I was devastated to learn that I had to leave Indonesia, but now I am just furious,'' she told The Associated Press. ``I am not sure when I have to leave. I am assuming they'll give (me) time to pack.''
The Belgium-based think tank opened its office in Jakarta in 2000. It has released detailed and well-researched reports on the threat of Islamic militants in the world's most populous Muslim nation, separatist conflicts in Aceh and Papua provinces, and religious violence in Central Sulawesi. They have raised questions about the government's initial failure to crack down on militants, and the heavy-handed tactics employed to combat its opponents.
The group's president, former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, said the expulsion order was served with a ``a desire to smother legitimate criticism.'' ``This will do far more damage to Indonesia's reputation than the ICG's,'' he told The AP. ``This is a sad day for those hoping for better from Indonesian democracy.'' Foreigners have largely been immune to Megawati's crackdown on critics, although a court jailed British national Lesley Jane McCulloch, an academic critical of the government, for five months after she was caught in Aceh in 2002.
Megawati is currently trailing her main rival in opinion polls ahead of presidential elections scheduled for July 5. Expelling foreigners is often popular with nationalist Indonesian voters, who regularly complain that foreign countries meddle in the country's internal affairs. On its web site, the ICG describes itself an independent, nonprofit organization working to prevent and resolve conflicts. It is chiefly funded by foreign governments.



Posted in Politics @ 02 June 2004 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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