JAKARTA – A 25-year-old Japanese photographer identified as Tadatomo Takagi is in police custody in the Indonesian province of Aceh after being detained by the military Thursday night, a senior military officer said Friday.
Brig. Gen. Bambang Dharmono, military operational commander in Aceh, told reporters in the North Aceh Regency capital of Lhokseumawe that Takagi arrived in the town Wednesday but did not have a permit from the Foreign Ministry to travel to Aceh.
A permit is required for foreign journalists under the terms of martial law, which was imposed in the province May 19.
The brigadier general asked Takagi to obtain the permit before starting work in Aceh.
Despite the warning, Takagi was stopped Thursday evening by military police in the neighboring district of Bireuen and found to have camera film in his bag.
Takagi said he is in Aceh to take pictures for a photo exhibition in Tokyo, according to Bambang. He said Takagi was handed over to the North Aceh Police Headquarters Friday morning.
Earlier this week, U.S. journalist William Nessen, who had been traveling with separatists in Aceh to cover the military offensive against them, was detained on suspicion of violating immigration laws.
A presidential decree issued earlier this month required all foreign journalists covering Aceh to obtain permits from the ministry and report their presence to the military emergency authorities.
The presidential decree is supported by another decree issued Thursday night by the military emergency authorities, which also requires all foreigners to obtain permits from the justice ministry to visit Aceh.
“Those who violate this decree will face stern actions, in line with the law,” it says.
Under the latest decree, foreigners’ activities are limited to the provincial capital of Banda Aceh and the 15 regency capitals.
If journalists want to cover stories outside the provincial and regency capitals, they must be escorted by soldiers or police officers “to guarantee their safety and security,” the decree says.
The government began its military offensive against the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) shortly after the failure of peace talks between GAM and government negotiators in Tokyo in mid-May.
As of Friday, at least 225 rebels, 25 soldiers, 15 civilians and five police have been killed, according to the military.
GAM has been waging a guerrilla war since 1976 seeking independence from Indonesia, which it accuses of looting the province’s natural resources.
The Indonesian government has in recent years granted special autonomy to the resource-rich province, where the conflict has claimed more than 12,000 lives.
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