Jakarta names 10 new suspects linked to online hoaxes

A series of peaceful protests after the the announcement of the official Indonesian presidential election result descended into two days of riots.
A series of peaceful protests after the the announcement of the official Indonesian presidential election result descended into two days of riots.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Indonesia's national police have named 10 new suspects accused of spreading online hoaxes linked to street violence in the capital city last week, in the aftermath of the announcement of the presidential election result.

Police have also arrested a politician, from the campaign team of presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto, who is suspected to have been in charge of distributing information that added to the tensions.

National police spokesman Brigadier-General Dedi Prasetyo told a press briefing yesterday that one of the 10 suspects distributed online content alleging the presence of foreign troops during the riots on May 21 and 22, and claimed they shot the rioters.

Other suspects were said by police to have sent threats to kill national figures on Facebook, spreading news about alleged unfair elections and posted videos claiming police officers tortured people in front of a mosque in Tanah Abang district, Central Jakarta.

"The 10 suspects arrested within these seven days prove the rise of accounts that deliver content in the form of hate speech, hoaxes and provocative narratives to incite public emotion and opinion. This is dangerous if we don't act," B-G Dedi said.

On Monday, the police had named six suspects linked to the unrest, including three men said to have been paid to kill four high-profile state officials.

A series of peaceful protests after the official result was announced last week descended into two days of riots that claimed the lives of eight people and injured more than 700 others.

 
 
 
 

President Joko Widodo was declared the winner of the April 17 election, beating Mr Prabowo, who claimed widespread fraud in the polls.

The authorities had described the street violence as a coordinated strike and "an event by design", with WhatsApp chat groups used by the rioters in their planning.

Speaking at the same news briefing, Senior Commissioner Rickynaldo Chairul said his team had arrested a politician from the election campaign team of Mr Prabowo.

The suspect is believed to have been in charge of distributing information which "triggers individual or group hatred" based on ethnic and religious sentiment and "fake news" to create public confusion.

The suspect, Mr Mustofa Nahrawardaya, is from the National Mandate Party, which is allied to Mr Prabowo's Gerindra party.

One of Mr Mustofa's tweets said a teenager had been beaten by the police in the Tanah Abang district in Central Jakarta, during the riots on May 22, resulting in his death. Police said what happened was that officers had acted against a young man who supplied big stones to rioters.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2019, with the headline 'Jakarta names 10 new suspects linked to online hoaxes'. Print Edition | Subscribe