Mob storms newspaper office, three reporters injured

Source: AJI

The office of newspaper daily “The Orbit” in Medan, North Sumatra was attacked on 3 May 2011 by employees of a company named in the newspaper’s report as sponsoring gambling, media reports said. Three reporters were injured and a still-undetermined amount of office equipment destroyed.

The “Jakarta Post” said that police have already arrested 18 of the suspects, including the director of PT Wahana Dewata Mandiri. Police also impounded a car and five motorcycles allegedly used by the suspects in going to the newspaper office.

The West Medan police chief said the company director, identified only as LS pending the filing of formal charges, and 17 employees, arrived at “The Orbit” office around 10:15 pm and proceeded to destroy office equipment like personal computers, printers and desks. They were also accused of stealing two cell phones owned by the newspaper employees.

Three reporters were also attacked, sustaining injuries.

The “Jakarta Post” said the incident stemmed from an article by “the Orbit” alleging that PT Wahana Dewata Mandiri was engaging in gambling by offering lottery tickets to its customers. Gambling is prohibited in Indonesia.

The “Jakarta Post” quoted “Orbit” editor-in-chief Atmadi as saying that with the suspects arrested, justice would be served. Atmadi added that the assault on the three reporters “caused not only physical injuries but psychological pain”.

The newspaper’s publisher, Makhsin, told www.detik.com that he would not rush into making any accusations about who had attacked them. “It is very likely that some people have been irritated by the news we ran. We leave the case to the police.”

Company director LS denied the accusation that he led the attack.

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The Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists or AJI) (http://ajiindonesia.org/) is a founding member of SEAPA. Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, AJI seeks to promote press freedom and protect the rights of Indonesian journalists.

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