26 Feb 2003

Washington Post withdraws and apologizes over Papua claim

5:03 pm on 26 February 2003

The Washington Post today says it has found "no substantiation" to a report it published last year implicating senior Indonesian military officers in an ambush of staff working for the Freeport Mine in Papua.

The ambush, in August last year, claimed the lives of three teachers, including two Americans.

The paper has printed a statement on an inside page following a settlement with lawyers for the Indonesian military in Jakarta.

On November 3, the Post reported that "senior Indonesian military officials discussed an operation" against Freeport before the ambush and that the discussions involved the military's commander in chief, Endriartono Sutarto.

General Sutarto had denied he or other officers discussed such a scheme and he had announced plans to sue the paper for a billion US dollars.

The paper says as a result of the General's denial, The Post investigated the matter further.

It says its reporting has revealed no substantiation that General Sutarto or other high-ranking Indonesian military officers were involved in any discussion or planning of the attack and the Post regretted the earlier report.