Indonesia Releases U.S. Journalist Detained Over Visa Issue

Haze from forest fires last year over Palangkaraya, the Indonesian city where the environmental reporter Philip Jacobson was arrested.

Mr. Jacobson was initially...

Mr. Jacobson was initially detained[1] on Dec. 17 and ordered to remain in Palangkaraya. On Tuesday, the immigration authorities arrested him and put him in jail, signaling that he could face criminal charges.

Mr. Jacobson’s reports for Mongabay include an article about a paper company[2] that he said had illicitly set up a shell company to secretly clear forest in Borneo, and another that analyzed the environmental record[3] of Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo.

Arvin Gumilang, a spokesman for Indonesia’s immigration department, said Mr. Jacobson had visited Indonesia several times on a business visa, and that he had been arrested after being reported to the authorities by an interviewee. He was not arrested because of any articles published by Mongabay, Mr. Gumilang added.

Rights activists said Mr. Jacobson’s case was disturbing and highlighted the need for Indonesia to loosen restrictions on journalists.

“This arbitrary arrest is an unacceptable attack on freedom of the press in the country,” said Amnesty International Indonesia’s executive director, Usman Hamid.

“Respect for the right to freedom of expression is a pillar of any rights-respecting society, whether it is holding institutions to account or highlighting environmental concerns.”

Dera Menra Sijabat contributed reporting.


  1. ^ was initially detained (
  2. ^ paper company (
  3. ^ environmental record (

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