Indonesia deports US journalist after alleged visa violation, says employer

Philip Jacobson was detained on Dec 17, 2019, and ordered to remain in the city while authorities investigated his case, according to an article on Mongabay's website. PHOTO: MONGABAY WEBSITE

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesia has deported an American journalist working for a website that reported on sensitive environmental issues in the South-east Asian archipelago over an alleged visa violation, his employer said on Friday (Jan 31).

Mr Philip Jacobson, 30, was initially detained last month after attending a hearing in Borneo involving the local parliament and the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago, Indonesia's largest indigenous rights advocacy group.

He was later arrested and told he faced up to five years in prison for visiting the country with the wrong visa in a case that drew international headlines.

Jacobson had travelled to Indonesia on a business visa, according to his employer, Mongabay.

On Friday, Mongabay said Mr Jacobson had been sent to the capital Jakarta and was then put on a flight to the United States.

"Before departure, he was informed that the charges against him had been formally dropped," the website said, adding that Mr Jacobson had been "temporarily blacklisted" by the country.

Indonesia's immigration department could not be immediately reached for comment.

Earlier, officials in Borneo disputed claims the arrest was linked to Mr Jacobson's involvement in sensitive stories about Indonesia's myriad environmental and corruption woes.

Mr Jacobson had repeatedly entered and left Indonesia on a non-journalist visa, they said.

Earlier, the US State Department said it had been in "frequent communication" with Mr Jacobson.

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