Indonesian Army May Sue US Journalist Over Murder Allegations

Text of report in English by Indonesian government-owned news agency

Antara website
[Unattributed article: ‘TNI seeking to sue American journalist’]

The Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) intends to sue an American
journalist for tarnishing its image by stating that the Army’s Special
Forces Command (Kopassus) was involved in political murders in the
run-up to the 2009 general elections in Aceh.

“We have been coordinating with other relevant agencies such as the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and even with Presidential Spokesman for
Foreign Affairs [Dino Patti Djalal] in looking into the possibility of
filing a lawsuit against or issuing a legal warning to Allan Nairn,”
Head of the TNI Information Centre Air Commodore Sagom Tamboen said in
Jakarta on 29 March 2010.

Tamboen said the article released by Nairn in his blog on 21 March
(entitled ‘Breaking News: Indonesian Army, Kopassus, Implicated in New
Assassinations. Forces Chosen by Obama for Renewed US Aid Ran 09
Activist Murders’) had ruined not only the image of Kopassus but also
that of TNI and the Indonesian nation. He described the article as
totally unfounded and slanderous.
“So, while showing formal data and facts (to Nairn), TNI is seeking to
file a lawsuit against him or issue a legal warning to him for his
unfounded article,” he said.
Tamboen said TNI believed Nairn’s article would not affect ties
between Indonesia and the United States particularly in the military
and defence fields.

“They (the US) have a military representative here who can monitor
what TNI, particularly Kopassus, has done with regards to reforming
itself. So they also have received first-hand information from their
representative in Indonesia,” he said.

In his article, Nairn quoted a number of sources, including local
administration officials, police, Kopassus officers and the wives of
the alleged murder victims to conclude that Kopassus was implicated in
the murder of at least eight Aceh Party members.

Former Kopassus commander Major General Soenarko had dismissed
allegations by the American journalist that the force was involved in
political murders in the run-up to the 2009 general elections in Aceh.

“There had been no Kopassus presence, either open or covert, in Aceh
since 2004 so how could any member of the force have been involved in
any activity there, including the 2009 general election,” said
Soenarko, who in 2009 headed the Iskandar Muda Military Area Command
in Aceh.

Source: Antara news agency, Jakarta, in English 0000 gmt 26 Mar 10