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Indonesia frees Swiss journalist

Oswald Iten is free.

(Keystone / Zuger Presse / Peter Fromenwyler)

A journalist working for the Zurich-based Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) newspaper in Indonesia has been freed by Indonesian police, 12 days after he was arrested in the trouble-stricken province of Irian Jaya.

Indonesian police released Oswald Iten on Thursday, after detaining him on December 3 on charges of violating the terms of his tourist visa.

Indonesia gave no indication of why it had released Iten, who was arrested after photographing security forces during an attack on the headquarters of the West Papua independence movement.

A Swiss foreign ministry spokesman would only say that the foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, had spoken to the Indonesian authorities by telephone on Wednesday.

Following his release, Iten said he hoped to return to Switzerland on Saturday. "It was obviously unpleasant to be held in police custody - they were too many mosquitoes."

He added that he had not been badly treated and that the food was acceptable.

Iten was arrested in Jayapura, the provincial capital of Irian Jaya, following an upsurge in separatist violence in the province.

The NZZ said he had been "carrying out his normal journalistic duties" before he was taken into custody.

swissinfo with agencies

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