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Swiss journalist faces prison term in Indonesia

Oswald Iten says he faces five years in jail

(Keystone Archive)

A journalist working for the Zurich-based Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) newspaper in Indonesia says he faces a five-year prison term after being arrested in the trouble-stricken province of Irian Jaya.

Oswald Iten said he had been detained at his hotel by police on Saturday. "I really thought it was nothing, and now I've discovered that I risk five years in jail and a fine of 25 million rupiah ($2,500)," Iten told journalists.

The NZZ said on Monday that Iten had been "carrying out his normal journalistic duties", when he was arrested in the provincial capital, Jayapura, following an upsurge in separatist violence there.

The paper confirmed that the Swiss embassy in Jakarta had been informed and said it was seeking an explanation from the Indonesian authorities.

Indonesian police said Iten had violated the terms of his tourist visa by taking photographs while security forces occupied the headquarters of the West Papua independence movement, a separatist group fighting for sovereignty from Jakarta.

The group was marking the 39th anniversary of West Papua's unilateral declaration of independence in 1961.

Irian Jaya occupies the western half of Papua island, north of Australia. Indonesia occupied the region in 1963 and renamed it Irian Jaya.

swissinfo with agencies

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