Media organisations in Indonesia have reported a spate of digital attacks directed at critical coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia are deeply concerned that the hacking attacks aim at restricting critical reporting and suppressing media freedom.
At least four media organisations have been targeted in an unprecedented series of digital attacks. On August 21, Tempo news website was replaced with a black screen with the word 'hoax', in bold red font splashed across it. The same day articles, including two critical articles of the Indonesian intelligence agency's role in the pandemic response, were removed from the website of tirto.id.
The Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) Director, Ade Wahyudin, on August 21 said the hacking is a legal violation. Wahyudin said there are mechanisms to deal with news reports deemed to be false, which are by submitting the right of reply or filing a complaint to the Press Council. AJI, which also part of Indonesian Journalists Safety Committee, together with the LBH Pers has opened the complaint centre for online media to report if they targeted in the digital attacks.
AJI said: "We call the police to investigate these digital attacks. The authorities must show that they will take serious efforts to find the mastermind behind the attacks. The authorities can not just simply ignore it since these attacks have threatened the press freedom in the country."
The IFJ said: "IFJ is gravely concerned by these hacking incidents and call on authorities to conduct a thorough investigation. These online attacks impede press freedom by creating a climate of fear that could lead to self-censorship."
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on firstname.lastname@example.org