French journalists Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat returned yesterday to France after being detained for 11 weeks in the Indonesian province of Papua, where a court in Papua’s capital, Jayapura, convicted them last week of misusing tourist visas to work as journalists.
They arrived in Paris in the morning and, along with their families, were received in the evening at Reporters Without Borders headquarters by RWB staff, their support committee, the Memento TV production company, the TV channel Arte and friends. “The return of Dandois and Bourrat is a big relief for us, said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. Their detention and eventual trial was one of the biggest ordeals they have ever had to endure." “Their conviction sets a dangerous precedent for all journalists trying to visit Indonesia in the future. This case is not over. We know that some of the people they met have been detained since 6 August. They should benefit from the protection accorded to journalists’ sources.” One of their sources, Areki Wanimbo, the tribal leader of the Lanny Jaya district, and three other locals were arrested at the same time as the journalists. He is currently in prison and may be tried on a charge of “rebellion.”