26 Mar 2009

Papua police release Dutch journalists

11:53 am on 26 March 2009

Police in the provincial capital of Indonesia's Papua have released four Dutch journalists who were held for questioning in Jayapura after they reported on a pro-independence rally.

But according to immigration officials, while one of the journalists has gone on to Jakarta, the other three are being refused permission to leave Papua and their passports had been confiscated.

The reporters were taken into custody for 12 hours on Tuesday after travelling to Papua last week to cover the return of Nicolaas Jouwe, a founder of the pro-independence Free Papua Movement, after more than 40 years in exile in The Netherlands.

The local immigration chief, Raden Hendiartono, said they were searched and questioned about their reporting activities in the remote province, which is normally barred to foreign journalists for security reasons.

Mr Hendiartono says the Dutchmen have been put in a hotel and are free to leave their rooms and walk around the hotel without supervision but they can't leave Papua and can't do any reporting until their passports are returned.