JAKARTA (AP): A Polish man detained in Indonesia’s troubled Papua region on suspicion of links to separatists will be tried there instead of being deported, police said Friday. Jakub Fabian Skrzypski, 39, described by police as a journalist, was arrested several days ago in Wamena, the capital of the mountainous district of Jayawijaya, following the arrests of five Papuans who had a quantity of ammunition.
Papua police spokesman Ahmad Mustofa Kamal said Skrzypski would be charged with involvement in a treasonous plot, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. “He committed his crime here, therefore he will face the legal process here,” Kamal told The Associated Press. Indonesia restricts foreign journalists from entering its two easternmost provinces, Papua and West Papua, where a pro-independence insurgency fought by the indigenous Melanesian population has simmered for decades.
Police and military reports seen by AP said Skrzypski had a long association with a rebel commander and was trying to reach one of their camps. The decision to prosecute rather than deport Skrzypski may reflect an Indonesian government desire to more strongly deter foreign involvement with the Papuan independence movement, which has vocal sympathizers in numerous Pacific island and Western nations including Vanuatu, the U.K., New Zealand and Australia. Indonesia annexed the Dutch-controlled half of the island of New Guinea in 1963 but decades later large areas of territory remain outside of its control.