Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) founder Rizieq Shihab's days as a fugitive in Saudi Arabia might be coming to an end soon, with Indonesian police now saying that the pornography charge against him could be dropped.Yesterday, Rizieq's lawyer Kapitra Ampera told the media that he had received information that the police were dropping Rizieq's pornography charge, which was filed against him after alleged evidence of his extramarital affair with a woman (in the form of nude photos and sexts) leaked online last year.
Rizieq went into exile in Saudi Arabia as soon as he was named a suspect under Indonesia's strict anti-pornography law and he pledged he would not come home until this case, as well as other criminal charges against him, were dropped.
National Police Spokesperson Mohammad Iqbal today neither confirmed nor denied the rumors, but indicated that Rizieq's pornography charge being dropped is a possibility as the police's investigation into the case has gone cold.
"As far as I know, according to expert witnesses, investigators handling this case must interrogate the uploader of the chat (between Rizieq and his alleged mistress). The uploader has not been interrogated," Iqbal said today, as quoted by Detik. "An SP3 (Investigation Termination Warrant) is possible."
The police have not been able to identify the uploader of Rizieq's alleged sexts or his alleged mistress' nude photos, even though the investigation into the case started over a year ago.
Last month, the West Java Police dropped Rizieq's Pancasila insult case, citing lack of criminal intent by the then-suspect. That move came not long after President Joko Widodo's representatives visited Rizieq in Saudi Arabia, which led to speculations that the president may be ready to influence the police into dropping the firebrand cleric's criminal charges in exchange for political favors ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
But it appears Rizieq still holds great political sway even with his being absent from the country, with Jokowi's likely sole challenger Prabowo Subianto himself visiting Rizieq in Saudi this week to discuss the formation of a coalition to challenge the incumbent in next year's election.
Over the past couple of years, Rizieq was reported to the police at least on 11 occasions, including for blasphemy against Christianity, spreading misinformation that the national currency is secretly a communist tool, and defamation. However, he was only formally named a suspect in two cases, the pornography case and the Pancasila insult case.