Jakarta Post chief Meidyatama Suryodiningrat faces up to five years in prison after sketch prompts outcry from Islamic groups.
A member loyal to the Islamic State. The Jakarta Post apologised for featuring fighters from the group in a cartoon. Photograph: Reuters
Agence France-Presse in Jakarta, The Guardian.
The chief editor of a leading English-language newspaper in Muslim-majority Indonesia has been named a suspect in a blasphemy case after the publication of a cartoon about the Islamic State (Isis) group.
The Jakarta Post’s Meidyatama Suryodiningrat could be jailed for up to five years if found guilty. He is the latest person to face action under the country’s tough blasphemy laws, which have been criticised by rights groups as overly harsh and outdated.
The cartoon, published in the paper on 3 July, shows a man raising a flag emblazoned with the Arabic phrase: “There is no God but Allah” over a picture of a skull and crossbones, with armed fighters in the background.
Following an outcry from Islamic groups, the Jakarta Post issued a front-page apology and retracted the cartoon five days later. It insisted it was meant to “critique the use of religious symbols” and as a “reproach” to Isis, the Islamist group that holds vast swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq.
A group called the Jakarta Muslim Preachers Corps filed a complaint to the police and on Friday a Jakarta police spokesman said that Suryodiningrat was officially named a suspect the previous day.
“The status of MS has been upgraded to suspect,” said the spokesman, using the editor’s initials, which is normal practice in Indonesian criminal cases.
Local media reported that he will be summoned for questioning next week. In some criminal cases in Indonesia, people are first named a suspect and only detained at a later date.
In a statement published on the Jakarta Post’s website, Suryodiningrat said that the paper was amazed by the move. “What we produced was a journalistic piece that criticised the Isis movement, which has carried out violence in the name of religion,” he said.
Amnesty International last month called on new president Joko Widodo to abolish the blasphemy laws, saying that cases of people being jailed for infringing the regulations had skyrocketed under his predecessor.
Erwin Arnada, editor of Indonesia’s version of Playboy magazine, was jailed for two years in 2010 for indecency but walked free in 2011 after the supreme court accepted his appeal.
Growing pressures on emergency departments contribute to their second-worst performance ever.
In the seven days to 7 December, 286,429 patients sought treatment from NHS A&E departments across England. Photograph: Robert Stainforth/Alamy
Denis Campbell, health correspondent, The Guardian.
Record numbers of patients had to wait more than four hours for A&E treatment last week, fuelling increasing fears the NHS is facing a winter crisis even before very cold weather has arrived.
Growing pressures on hospitals also meant that emergency departments recorded their second-worst performance ever against the politically important target that 95% of patients should be treated within four hours.
In the seven days to Sunday 7 December, the NHS across England managed to treat and then admit or discharge just 87.7% of the 286,429 patients who arrived at hospital A&E units. That was significantly down on the 90.4% performance seen the week before.
The highest-ever number of patients were also forced to spend between four and 12 hours on a trolley waiting to be admitted last week, in a further sign the service is struggling to meet the rising demand for care, despite ministers giving it an extra £700m to help it cope.
NHS England, which runs the service and allocates its £96bn budget, admitted that hospitals are being put under “extra pressure” and identified the rising number of attendances at A&E as a key reason.
It is “pulling out all the stops” to avoid not being able to cope, it insisted.
In total 35,373 patients waited more than four hours in what the NHS calls Type 1 A&E units – those situated at hospitals – before they were treated, the highest figure since records began in late 2010. The previous highest figure was 34,595 in April 2013, just after the problem-strewn launch of the NHS’s new 111 telephone advice service led to a surge in demand.
Last week’s 35,373 is also more than 50% up on the 21,276 patients who waited more than four hours in the same week last year.
In addition, 7,760 patients who had been treated then endured between four and 12 hours on a trolley as they waited to be admitted to the hospital from its A&E. That is more than 2,000 more than the week before, and is further evidence that hospitals are facing mounting difficulty in dealing with the growing number of patients and increased complexity of illness and injury they are facing.
It is also more than double the 3,666 patients who experienced a trolley wait in the same week in 2013.
Dame Barbara Hakin, NHS England’s national director of commissioning operations, said: “This week over 110,100 emergency admissions to hospital and 436,229 attendances – up nearly 30,000 on the average for the same week over the past years. Unsurprisingly this level of demand continues to put extra pressure on our hospitals.
“But the NHS remains resilient and is pulling out all the stops, with local hospitals, ambulances, GPs, home health services and local councils all working hard to open extra beds and seven day services using the extra winter funding that has been made available”, she added.
Representatives including Theresa May held 24 meetings with US officials writing CIA report in which UK references were redacted.
Theresa May met members of the Senate committee working on the CIA torture report, according to documents obtained by Reprieve. Photograph: Euan Cherry/Photoshot
Rowena Mason, political correspondent, The Guardian.
The government is under pressure to explain whether UK ministers and officials repeatedly lobbied the US to delete references to British spies from a damning report about CIA torture of detainees in the wake of 9/11.
New documents show that, from 2009, UK government representatives had 24 meetings with members of the US committee that found CIA methods were brutal and ineffective.
Among those who met the committee were the home secretary, Theresa May, the former Labour minister Lord West and the UK’s ambassadors to Washington, according to information obtained by the human rights group Reprieve.
Downing Street has admitted that British spies were granted redactions on “national security grounds” but denies that there was a cover-up.
However, the number of meetings has led to suspicions about a concerted UK lobbying campaign to secure redactions.
The Reprieve spokesman Donald Campbell said: “We already know that the UK was complicit in the CIA’s shameful rendition and torture programme. What we don’t know is why there is no mention of that in the public version of the Senate’s torture report.
“There are important questions which members of the current and the previous governments must answer: did they lobby to ensure embarrassing information about the UK was ‘redacted’ or removed from the report?
He said May and West both met the Senate committee while it was working on its report. “They need to provide clear answers on whether they sought to lobby the committee to keep embarrassing information about the UK out of the public eye.”
In a letter to Reprieve in July, the then foreign secretary, William Hague, said: “The UK government has not sought to influence the content of the Senate report. We have made representations to seek assurance that ordinary procedures for clearance of UK material will be followed in the event that UK material provided to the Senate committee were to be disclosed.”
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary leading the current scrutiny of UK involvement in torture, acknowledged the redactions could create suspicions but insisted there was no cover-up.
He told the BBC: “I actually had a conversation two days ago with the head of the relevant intelligence agency, and he stated quite categorically what we have now heard publicly: that there were no requests to redact or to conceal anything in the report that referred to any allegations of United Kingdom complicity in the treatment of detainees; that the only redactions that were being requested were with regard to operational matters, which were genuine national security issues. Now, that’s what he has said to us. Of course, as part of our inquiry we will look into that further to be absolutely satisfied.”
On Thursday, a spokesman for David Cameron acknowledged the UK had been granted deletions in advance of the publication, contrasting with earlier assertions by No 10. The spokesman said any redactions were only requested on “national security grounds” and contained nothing to suggest UK agencies had participated in torture or rendition.
However, the admission will fuel suspicions that the report – while heavily critical of the CIA – was effectively sanitised to conceal the way in which close allies of the US became involved in the global kidnap and torture programme that was mounted after the al-Qaida attacks.
On Wednesday, the day the report was published, Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters, when asked whether redactions had been sought, that there had been “none whatsoever, to my knowledge”.
However, on Thursday, the prime minister’s deputy official spokesman said: “My understanding is that no redactions were sought to remove any suggestion that there was UK involvement in any alleged torture or rendition. But I think there was a conversation with the agencies and their US counterparts on the executive summary. Any redactions sought there would have been on national security grounds in the way we might have done with any other report.”
The two main cases relevant to the involvement of Britain’s intelligence agencies related to Binyam Mohamed, a British citizen tortured and secretly flown to Guantánamo Bay, and the abduction of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami-al-Saadi, two prominent Libyan dissidents, and their families, who were flown to Tripoli in 2004 where they were tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s secret police.
There is no reference at all in the Senate’s 500-page report to UK intelligence agencies or the British territory of Diego Garcia, which is used by the US as a military base. But the executive summary contained heavy redactions throughout, prompting speculation that references to US allies had been erased.
In the wake of the Senate report, the UK government is coming under increasing pressure to order a more transparent inquiry into the actions of MI5 and MI6 amid claims of British complicity in the US torture programme.
Asked about the need for a full public inquiry, the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, conceded on Thursday that he was open to the idea if the current investigation by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee leaves remaining questions unanswered. No 10 also suggested Cameron had not ruled this out if the ISC does not settle the torture issue.
The government had initially commissioned an inquiry by retired judge Sir Peter Gibson to look at the UK’s treatment of detainees after 9/11. However, he only managed a preliminary report raising 27 serious questions about the behaviour of the UK security services, before it was replaced by an investigation handled by the ISC in December last year.
The ISC’s report will not, however, be completed before next year’s election, so it is unclear how many members of the nine-strong panel of MPs and peers will still be in parliament to complete the work.
Ukrainian MP and former military pilot Nadiya Savchenko.
Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.
On the same day that Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada passed a resolution calling on Russia to release Ukrainian MP and former military pilot Nadiya Savchenko, her lawyers have expressed concern over her state of health in Russian detention.
Lawyer Ilya Novikov reports that she is suffering an ear inflammation and that the prison doctors are not dealing with the situation. “Loss of hearing in that ear is already total, and it looks as if it will get worse”, he writes.
Savchenko’s defence are stepping up their efforts to obtain the release of the former pilot who was captured by Kremlin-backed militants in the Luhansk oblast and is now facing dubious charges in Russia. On Dec 15 a Moscow court will consider two appeals from the defence, including one against her extended term of detention.
On Dec 11 the Verkhovna Rada adopted a Resolution “On an appeal to Russia’s State Duma and President Vladimir Putin to release Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko”.
The Resolution states that Ms Savchenko was elected to parliament on Oct. 26 2014 from the Batkivshchyna Party and that her signed oath was publicly demonstrated in parliament on Nov 27 meaning that she has now been sworn in as MP.
“The Verkhovna Rada states that Ukrainian MP and member of the Batkivshchyna faction … Nadiya Savchenko will, outside the quota system will represent the entire Ukrainian parliament in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and will be a member of Ukraine’s permanent delegation to PACE.
The statement goes on to explain that this is the first time that an elected member of the Verkhovna Rada is unable to take up her duties because she is clearly unlawfully and on groundless charges held in detention in another country in overt violation of international human rights.
Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada therefore calls on the State Duma, the Russian President and other Russian bodies and officials to take all measures to secure Nadiya Savchenko’s release
It also calls for the “release of all Ukrainian nationals who, during the period of armed conflict in the east of Ukraine, were taken prisoner, illegally taken to the Russian Federation and held there against their will”.
321 MPs voted for the resolution. There were no votes against, however 28 MPs did not vote at all.
Media reports say that the resolution calls for the release of Nadiya Savchenko, Crimean film director Oleg Sentsov and other prisoners, however the wording means that it only applies unequivocally to Nadiya Savchenko. She was taken prisoner by Kremlin-backed militants from the so-called ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ on around June 17. On July 3 a Russian court remanded her in custody and she has been in Russian detention ever since. Savchenko says that she was taken across the border with a bag over her end and hands tied, and has made her attitude to the ‘lying Russian courts’ abundantly clear. Russia’s Investigative Committee claims that she voluntarily entered Russia, pretending to be a refugee. The Investigative Committee studiously avoids mentioning her capture by the militants, but even so the Russian version is difficult to take seriously. The investigators have also threatened to charge her with ‘illegally crossing the border’.
The investigators claim that in June, as a member of the Aidar Battalion, Savchenko found out the whereabouts of a group of TV Rossiya journalists and other civilians outside Luhansk, and passed these to fighters who carried out a mortar attack which killed TV Rossiya employees Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin.
The prosecution tried hard to prevent inclusion of evidence from the defence which apparently demonstrates that Ms Savchenko was already in custody when the two journalists were killed. This was in such flagrant breach of the law that their objections were finally overridden.
Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, 31, fought in eastern Ukraine in the ranks of the Aidar volunteer battalion and in June was taken prisoner by militia forces near the town of Shchastya in Luhansk Oblast. © Courtesy
Russia’s authoritative Memorial Human Rights Centre has declared Nadiya Savchenko a political prisoner.
Russia is holding at very least 5 other Ukrainian nationals whose cases arouse grave concern. Oleg Sentsov, civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko and two other Crimean opponents of Russian annexation of the Crimea were arrested in Simferopol in May and were soon taken, against their will, to Russia [Moscow], where they remain in detention. The FSB claims that they were behind a ‘Right Sector’ plot to carry out terrorist acts and destroy major parts of the infrastructure in Simferopol and Sevastopol on Victory Day, May 9. Russia has constantly demonized the far-right and ultra-nationalist Right Sector and paid effectively no head to the party’s dismal showing in both presidential and parliamentary elections.
There were no terrorist acts although the arrests were made after the supposed date planned for them. The only ‘evidence’ comes from ‘confessions’ given by Gennady Afanasyev and Oleksy Chirniy. Both claim that Sentsov ‘masterminded the plot’. Both Sentsov and Kolchenko have repeatedly alleged that they were subjected to torture and that Sentsov was warned that if he didn’t give testimony against EuroMaidan and the new Kyiv government, they would claim that he was the mastermind of the purported ‘terrorist plot’.
Sentsov is a well-known film director with a growing international reputation. He is also a solo father with two young children, one of whom is autistic. If this makes him a wildly improbable candidate for ‘terrorist mastermind’, so too must the claim that Kolchenko, a left-wing anarchist, was part of a far-right nationalist party ‘plot’. Add to this the fact that the only ‘evidence’ is from confessions obtained while the men were totally in the control of the Simferopol enforcement bodies without access to lawyers or contact with their families.
Amnesty International has called for Sentsov and Kolchenko’s release from Russian detention and Memorial has recognized them as political prisoners.
Yury Yatsenko, a Lviv law student in his final year, was not illegally taken to Russia but there are very strong grounds for believing that the charges against him and his detention in a Russian SIZO are impelled by political considerations and do not bear scrutiny.
Yatsenko and his friend Bohdan Yarychevsky, were detained in Russia’s Kursk oblast in early May. They were held in a police station without food or sleep for two days, and not allowed to ring their relatives, a lawyer or the Ukrainian consul. During that time the FSB [Russian security service] turned up, interrogated them, suspecting that they had been ‘sent by Dmytro Yarosh’ [the leader of Right Sector] or by Ukraine’s SBU. The ‘grounds’ for such suspicions were a map showing Kursky Station found on their mobile telephone. Yarychevsky explains that they’d saved it in order to get their bearings and know how to get to the station to catch the coach home. The FSB, however, deemed the photo ‘suspicious’ and possibility indicating a plan to blow up the station.
Yatsenko and Yarychevsky were not officially detained for imaginary ‘radicalism’ or ‘nationalism’, nor were they suspected of any criminal offence. A court on May 8 ruled that they had committed an administrative offence by ticking the box ‘private purpose’ on the border entry form, when they should have ticked the ‘tourism’ box.
Both young men were subjected to torture with the FSB wanting them to publicly testify that a military junta had taken over in Ukraine and to ask for political asylum. They constantly received threats that if they didn’t cooperate, criminal charges would be concocted, with drugs or weapons planted.
This is basically what happened, though against only one of the two – Yury Yatsenko – who has been charged with ‘smuggling explosive devices’. Yarychevsky was deported and is taking part in efforts to obtain his friend’s release.
- Savchenko Case: No legal grounds, no evidence and total distrust in Russian justice.
- G20 Putin Pack: Captured by Militants in Ukraine, Tried in Russia.
- Nadiya Savchenko: I’m sick of Russia and your lying courts.
- Chief suspects in abduction of Nadiya Savchenko named.
- Savchenko: Abducted, then charged with ‘illegally crossing the border’.
- Nadiya Savchenko: Unbroken in Russian detention, now Ukrainian MP.
- “They torture POWs here” Moscow voices in defence of Nadiya Savchenko.
- Nadiya Savchenko’s treatment amounts to torture, lawyers say.
- Savchenko: Appeal delayed while psychiatric assessment goes right ahead.
- Memorial recognizes Nadiya Savchenko as a political prisoner.