Jakarta releases 'treason' suspects

Jakarta releases 'treason' suspects

Muslim men shout slogans during a rally against Jakarta Governor Basuki
Muslim men shout slogans during a rally against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is being prosecuted for blasphemy, at the National Monument in Jakarta on Friday. (AP Photo)

JAKARTA: Indonesian police said they released eight people on Saturday, including prominent citizens who were arrested a day earlier for suspected treason and other crimes, but are continuing to investigate them. Three others are still being detained for questioning.

National police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said that another man, Alvinida Al-Farasi, was also arrested on Friday, bringing the number of people under suspicion to 11.

They were detained hours before the second major protest by conservative Muslims against the Christian governor of Jakarta. It drew at least 200,000 people to the city’s streets and ended peacefully.

Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese, has stirred anger among Muslims who want him jailed for blasphemy for allegedly insulting the Koran. Authorities are prepariing to prosecute him but have yet to detain him. An earlier protest on Nov 4 turned violent after unnamed "political actors" took advantage of the situation, authorities said.

Amar said those detained this week had planned to use the latest mass rally to occupy parliament and force lawmakers to hold an extraordinary session to overthrow the government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

He said those released included Rachmawati, the daughter of Indonesia’s founding president Sukarno and the younger sister of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri; retired army Gen Kivlan Zein, and activist Ratna Sarumpaet.

They were cooperating with the investigation so their continued detention was not necessary, he told reporters.

Some opposition politicians criticised the arrests.

Police also released musician-turned-politician Ahmad Dhani, who is accused of defaming Jokowi. Authorities are still holding Sri Bintang Pamungkas, a noted political prisoner under the regime of the late dictator Suharto, and two people suspected of breaches of the electronic information and transactions law.

Dhani and another of those arrested, political activist Ratna Sarumpaet, were part of the campaign team for Prabowo Subianto in the 2014 presidential election that Subianto lost to Jokowi.

“Police have detected their activities within 28 days and collected evidence of their evil conspiracy to overthrow the government,” Amar said.

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