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Foreign Ministry declares German Embassy staffer persona non grata

Jakarta Post - December 30, 2020

Dian Septiari, Jakarta – The Foreign Ministry has said the German embassy staffer who allegedly visited the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, is unwelcome in Indonesia after he left the country soon after a picture of the purported visit made the rounds on social media last week.

The FPI leadership previously claimed that an official representative of the German Embassy had paid a visit to the group's headquarters on Dec. 18. But the embassy has said the staffer was simply trying to get a picture of the security situation during the so-called "1812 Protest" held by FPI supporters that day, as the demonstration would pass near the building. The embassy has also said that the person had acted on personal initiative and not on behalf of the embassy.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the staffer had left Indonesia on Dec. 21 and would be barred from reentering the country.

"Since then, the Foreign Ministry has been communicating with the German government through the German Embassy in Jakarta [...] The ministry conveyed the decision that the Indonesian government did not want the person in question to return to Indonesia," Retno said in a video statement.

The Foreign Ministry summoned German Ambassador Peter Schoof for clarification. He denied having ordered or having had any knowledge of the incident.

"For this incident, the head representative of the embassy expressed his apologies and regrets about the incident," Retno said, adding that he had also denied the FPI leadership's claims and had assured her that the incident did not reflect the policies of the German government or embassy.

The embassy also expressed the support and commitment of the German government to continue bilateral cooperation with Indonesia to fight intolerance, radicalism and hate speech, Retno added.

FPI supporters held what they dubbed the "1812 protest" in Central Jakarta on Dec. 18 to demand a transparent investigation into the deaths of six FPI members and the release of the organization's firebrand leader Rizieq Shihab, who was arrested for allegedly violating health protocols through a series of mass gatherings last month.

The animosity between the government and the FPI escalated earlier this month after an alleged clash between members of the Jakarta Police and sympathizers of Rizieq took place on a section of the Jakarta-Cikampek toll road, which resulted in the deaths of six FPI members.

The police and the FPI issued divergent accounts of the incident, with the police arguing that the officers had defended themselves from a life-threatening attack launched by FPI members and the FPI asserting that none of its members had been carrying weapons and that the shooting had violated police protocols.

Muhammad Farhan, a member of House of Representatives Commission I overseeing foreign affairs, information and intelligence, suspected that the embassy staffer was a member of the German foreign intelligence service.

Citing information he received from his "sources in Berlin", Farhan, who belongs to the NasDem Party, was quoted by kompas.com as saying that the person was "not a government employee registered at the German Foreign Ministry but was registered as an employee at the BND, or the German intelligence agency."

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/12/30/foreign-ministry-declares-german-embassy-staffer-persona-non-grata.htm