23 Nov 2002

Indonesian military seeks apology over American newspaper article

9:38 am on 23 November 2002

The Indonesian military has asked through its lawyers that the Washington Post newspaper apologise over a story or face a 1 billion US dollar lawsuit.

The story suggested that a shooting attack near the Freeport mine in Papua on August 31 in which two Americans and one Indonesian were killed might be linked to a conversation among top Indonesian military commanders including its chief, Endiartono Sutarto.

The story cited an unnamed US government official and other anonymous sources who said there were intelligence reports about the conversation.

It carried a military denial that any such discussion took place.

The military's lawyer, Frans Hendra Winata, says the good name of the military has been defamed.

He says the newspaper has 14 days to answer the request before the military takes it to court.

Another lawyer for the military, Trimoelja Soerjadi, says an apology statement should be published in five major US and five Indonesian newspapers at a minimal size of a quarter of a page and at least half a page in papers that quoted the Post's story.