Telly Nathalia, Jakarta – The National Police's cybercrime unit has arrested a man suspected of spreading fake news about foreign security officers being deployed during post-election protests in Jakarta this week, officials said on Friday.
The suspect's name is Said Djamalul Abidin. He was arrested in Bekasi, West Java, on Thursday afternoon.
"[The man] has spread [false] information to trigger racial and ethnic hatred against individuals and groups, and share fake news to create public unrest through social media," Chief Cmr. Rickynaldo Chairul, the head of the cybercrime division at the National Police's Detective and General Crimes (Bareskrim) unit, said.
A photo showing three officers with slanted eyes from the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob), accompanied by a caption that questioned their origins and suggested the protests in Jakarta were guarded by Chinese security officers, went viral on social media on Wednesday.
On the same day, clashes between protesters and security officers broke out at several spots in Central Jakarta, with six people reported dead.
The original photo was a selfie with the three members of Brimob. The picture was edited by the suspect and shared in at least four WhatsApp groups before it went viral, Ricky said.
"He is the originator and buzzer [of the fake news]," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said.
The three police officers in the photo have been talking to the media to correct the misleading information. They are from a Brimob unit in North Sumatra and were sent as reinforcement to Jakarta.
The photo was taken in the Thamrin area of Central Jakarta where supporters of losing president candidate Prabowo Subianto protested the result of last month's presidential election in front of the offices of the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu).
"I received the information from someone else, I wasn't the one to make it up. But I made the mistake of spreading the news. I want to apologize to all parties, especially to the police, because of my carelessness on social media," Said told journalists at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta.
Said is charged with multiple articles under the Information and Electronic Transaction Law and the Criminal Code and faces a maximum penalty of six years' imprisonment, according to Rickynaldo.