British journalists Rebecca Prosser and Neil Bonner were sentenced today to two and a half months in prison on a charge of violating Indonesia’s immigration law. Having already been held for more than twice that time, they are due to be freed shortly.
Detained by the immigration authorities on the western island of Batam since late May, Rebecca Prosser and Neil Bonner were found guilty today by the Batam district court that began examining their case in September. “We are relieved to learn that Rebecca Prosser and Neil Bonner will soon be released,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “Nonetheless, their conviction by this court confirms Indonesia’s troubling tendency to treat journalists as criminals when all they have done is violate a regulation. How can locking up journalists for long periods like criminals be regarded as justice? The law on foreign journalists’ visas must be repealed.” Prosser and Bonner, who work for the Wall to Wall production company, entered Indonesia on tourist visas and were arrested by the Indonesian navy on 28 May while filming a reenactment of pirates storming an oil tanker for a documentary commissioned by National Geographic. Indonesia is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.