Anselmus Bata, Jakarta – State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir has lodged a defamation lawsuit against political activist Faizal Assegaf who allegedly accused him of having "many wives" and being an "irresponsible father".
"Mr. Erick Thohir is very disturbed and offended by Faizal Assegaf's social media post that deliberately aims to attack his personal integrity, honor, and reputation," Ifdhal Kasim, an attorney for Erick, told reporters on Friday.
Ifdhal said Faizal has posted a video on his Instagram account with false narrations stating that Erick "has many wives he has secretly married" and that he refused to pay tuition fees for "a child from his first wife".
"Mr. Erick is a father of two sons and two daughters and it's untrue that he has many wives or a reputation of having been married multiple times," the lawyer said.
The particular video posted by Faizal features lawyer Kamaruddin Simanjuntak who throws unrelated accusations against the president director of a state-owned pension management company Taspen he alleged of collecting Rp 300 trillion for a presidential candidate.
While Kamaruddin didn't mention Erick by name in the video, Faizal allegedly put the defaming narration against Erick, according to Ifdhal.
"This is a malicious slander," said Ifdhal, the former chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights.
The lawyer said Erick totally focuses on his work as a cabinet member and has yet to make any political decision about the 2024 presidential election although many parties have urged him to nominate himself.
"Mr. Erick's hard works have helped turn losing and highly-subsidized SOEs into health and profitable companies," the lawyer said without providing details.
Faizal was reported to the Criminal Investigation Agency of the National Police in Jakarta for alleged violation of the Electronic Information and Transaction Law.
He is known as a supporter of controversial Muslim figure Rizieq Syihab, who is a fierce critic of President Joko Widodo's government. He has not responded to a message from Jakarta Globe for his response.
The lawyer cited articles on the dissemination of false information to incite hatred, which is punishable by up to six years in prison.
Erick has great faith in freedom of speech as the essential part of democracy but he is against those who "misuse their freedom" to attack the integrity of other people and do harm to democracy, Ifdhal said.
"This lawsuit demonstrates Mr. Erick's seriousness in fighting against hoaxes, disinformation, and slanderous remarks," Ifdhal added.