Jakarta – Philip Jacobson, an American editor for the non-profit environmental news platform Mongabay, was deported from Indonesia on Jan. 31, more than six weeks after authorities in the city of Palangkaraya detained him over an alleged visa violation, Mongabay said in a release on Friday evening.
Jacobson was first detained on Dec. 17, 2019, after attending a hearing between the Central Kalimantan Legislative Council and the local chapter of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN).
"We are relieved that Phil has finally been granted his freedom," Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett A. Butler said. "His prolonged detention over this matter was profoundly concerning, but we are very pleased that authorities dismissed the charges and released him."
Jacobson was arrested under Article 122 of the 2011 Immigration Law. If convicted of the charges, he faced a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to Rp 500 million (US$36,556). However, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said the government should instead deport Jacobson and released him from prison.
"It's good to be out of prison, and I'm relieved the prospect of a five-year jail sentence is no longer something I have to contemplate. I am very grateful to all those who worked hard to resolve this situation, including coordinating minister Mahfud MD and other Indonesian politicians and individuals who went out of their way to highlight the importance of work done by the press. I appreciate that a lot of people have expended time and energy on my behalf – please accept my sincere thanks for your efforts and apologies for the trouble. I owe you all."
In a statement from Jacobson's legal advisors from the Palangkaraya Legal Aid Institute (LBH Palangkaraya), the lawyers confirmed that Jacobson's charges had been dropped.
Butler of Mongabay said they would "ensure Mongabay journalists from abroad are able to obtain the correct visa to continue playing their important role in contributing to sustainable economic development in the country."