Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta – American environmental journalist Philip Jacobson remains under city arrest in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, days after being released from prison, his lawyer has said.
Jacobson, an editor for environmental science and conservation news portal Mongabay, was detained by immigration officers last week on the accusation of abusing his business visa. He was subsequently locked up in the Palangkaraya Penitentiary.
Palangkaraya Legal Aid Foundation head Aryo Nugroho, one of Jacobson's lawyers, told The Jakarta Post on Monday that Jacobson had been released on Friday but remained under city arrest.
Aryo also confirmed that the immigration office was holding Jacobson's passport, which it confiscated on Dec. 17, 2019.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said on Friday, after a meeting with United States Ambassador Joseph Donovan, that he would contact immigration authorities and recommend they deport Jacobson as soon as possible.
Immigration officials did not immediately respond to requests for information on Jacobson's current status.
Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said the charges against the journalist should be dropped.
"We welcome the decision of Indonesian authorities to suspend his detention. However, as a follow up, the charge against him must be dropped," Usman said in a statement on Monday.
"The charge against Philip comes at a time of when Indonesia is seeing a rise in violent attacks against and persecution of environmentalists and journalists. We are deeply concerned that the real reason behind the criminal charges for Jacobson is not merely a visa violation but his work for Mongabay."