Playboy Editor, Model Face Criminal Charges in Indonesia

Michael Hayes
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The controversial issue of Playboy magazine that sparked protests in the predominantly Muslim nation of Indonesia and brought violent attacks on the company’s local headquarters has now landed the editor-in-chief and the centerfold model in legal hot water, as authorities officially declared them suspect in a criminal indecency case.

Erwin Arnada, editor-in-chief for Playboy Indonesia and Kartika Gunawan, the model who posed in lingerie in the inaugural edition of the magazine, both could face up to two years and eight months in prison for indecency, authorities said.

Under Indonesian law, declaring a person to be a suspect is a formal step in police procedure, demonstrating that there is enough evidence to bring a case to trial.

Despite naming the two as suspects, Indonesian police had no further comment.

Arnada, a well-known Indonesian journalist, made no statement regarding the pending legal action against him. The Playboy Indonesia edition that he oversaw — the company has since halted publication — contained no nudity. According to reports out of Indonesia, at the time of the magazine’s initial publication in April, the magazine’s 100,000 copies sold out immediately, spawning a secondary market where prices tripled and quadrupled.

Gunawan, an Indonesian actress and model, told reporters that she was worried about the charges, but said that she had the full support of her family.

“I am not sorry, because every decision I made was well considered,” Gunawan said. “I was not trying to make a sensation, many more people posed more vulgar than I did.”

Sinarta Bangun, an attorney for the model, said his client believed that her work with Playboy was in full compliance with Indonesia’s indecency laws.

The legal action against Playboy comes against the backdrop of a larger push by a hard-line Islamic segment of Indonesia’s parliament to pass a bill that would ban art, culture and literature deemed to be erotic or offensive.

The ongoing battle in Parliament has drawn out protesters in the tens of thousands on both sides of the issue, with opponents of the bill arguing that such a law would undermine Indonesia’s secular traditions.

Playboy continues to publish international editions of its flagship magazine in 20 countries around the world.