Playboy Editor Cleared in Indonesia Court

Tod Hunter
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Playboy Indonesia's editor-in-chief has been cleared of charges of distributing indecent pictures to the public and making money from them, which could have led to a sentence of as long as 32 months, Reuters has reported. "This is a great gift for Playboy Indonesia," said Editor-In-Chief Erwin Arnada, calling the verdict a victory for press freedom. "Today's verdict proved press freedom is respected in this country."

A lawyer representing some Muslim groups said they would seek a new prosecution, saying, "The road which we will take is refiling the complaint not only against Playboy but also against other adult magazines."

The presiding judge at the South Jakarta court said the prosecution's arguments "could not be accepted" and "were not diligent," because they failed to take into account recent media laws allowing press freedom, which were created after the 1998 downfall of Indonesian president Suharto.

A group of 20 Islamic hardliners attended the trial, and another 200 were gathered outside. Authorities had prepared for a demonstration, with hundreds of police officers and a water cannon, but there was only muted reaction and the crowd dispersed without incident.

This decision comes almost a year after the magazine's controversial debut in Indonesia in early April 2006, when Muslim leaders decried the magazine as "moral terrorism" and readers were disappointed by the sedate nature of the pictures in the magazine, which featured cheesecake poses but no full nudity.