Indonesia detains 18 in pre-emptive bid to boost Christmas security

Jakarta (Shutterstock)
Updated 11 December 2017
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Indonesia detains 18 in pre-emptive bid to boost Christmas security

JAKARTA: Indonesian anti-terrorism police have detained 18 people with links to militant groups in a bid to cut the risk of attacks during Christmas and the New Year in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, police said on Monday.
Near-simultaneous attacks on churches in the capital, Jakarta, and elsewhere on Christmas Eve in 2000, killed nearly 20 people. Ever since, authorities have stepped up security at churches and tourist spots for the holiday.
Police Chief Tito Karnavian said while there was no evidence of a specific plot, the detentions were made in a bid to head off trouble.
“We’re doing a pre-emptive strike,” Karnavian told reporters. “The majority of them have links to previous incidents (and people) who we had arrested earlier,” he said.
Police said that 12 people had been detained in South Sumatra, four in West Kalimantan, one in Malang in East Java and one in Surabaya in the same province.
Under Indonesia’s anti-terrorism laws, investigators can hold people for seven days before determining whether they will be designated suspects or released, said police spokesman Setyo Wasisto.
Indonesia has seen its share of militant attacks over the years aimed at foreign, Christian and government targets including blasts on the tourist island of Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people.
Since then, police have managed to stamp out or weaken many militant networks although there has been a resurgence in radicalism in recent years, inspired largely by Islamic State.
A series of small-scale attacks since early 2016 has been linked to Islamic State, which is believed to have thousands of sympathizers in Indonesia.


Pardoned Australian filmmaker to be deported from Cambodia

In this Aug. 29, 2018, file photo, Australian filmmaker James Ricketson, right, is helped off a prisoner truck upon his arrival at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (AP)
Updated 10 min 3 sec ago
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Pardoned Australian filmmaker to be deported from Cambodia

  • Ricketson repeatedly insisted he had no political agenda and his work making documentary films was journalistic in nature

PHNOM PEHN, Cambodia: An Australian filmmaker was awaiting deportation from Cambodia on Saturday after receiving a royal pardon for his conviction on spying charges for flying a drone over a political rally.
A spokesman for immigration police said that James Ricketson will be deported on Saturday morning, a day after being released from prison.
“We are now checking a flight for him,” Gen. Keo Vanthan told The Associated Press.
Ricketson, 69, was sentenced to six years in a trial his sympathizers described as farcical because prosecutors never specified whom he was spying for and failed to present evidence that he possessed or transmitted any secrets. He had been detained without bail since June last year in harsh conditions.
He was arrested after flying a drone to photograph a rally of the Cambodian National Rescue Party — the only credible opposition party that was later dissolved by the courts at the instigation of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.
His pardon is the latest in a series of releases of political prisoners after the ruling party’s landslide victory in a July election that critics and observers said was deeply flawed.
Ricketson repeatedly insisted he had no political agenda and his work making documentary films was journalistic in nature.
His Aug. 31 conviction was met with only lukewarm public concern from Australia’s prime minister and foreign minister. Their public stance was criticized, but also led to speculation that an understanding might have been reached with Cambodian authorities for Ricketson’s early release.
Ricketson’s lawyer, Kong Sam Onn, said Friday that his client would go first to Phnom Penh and then travel to Australia.
“James will go back to his home country after he is released, but later he will be back to Cambodia because the pardon letter doesn’t bar him from re-entering Cambodia,” he said. However, there is no official statement guaranteeing he will be readmitted.
Ricketson had said during his trial that he wished to re-establish a project that he had launched before his arrest to buy some land to resettle several poor Cambodian families who have been living at a garbage dump. He and several character witnesses had testified that he provided financial assistance to several poverty stricken Cambodians.