AJI slams attack on chairperson's accounts as attack on press freedom

Kompas.com – February 25, 2022
AJI General Chairperson Sasmito Madrim speaking to journalists – Undated (Populis)

Vitorio Mantalean, Jakarta – The Indonesian Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI) has condemned the hacking and disinformation attacks against AJI General Chairperson Sasmito Madrim.

In a written release, the AJI stated that the incident is a "serious threat to press freedom and the freedom of expression".

"This practice is a form of attack against activists and the AJI as an organisation which has struggled for freedom of expression and press freedom", the group wrote in a release received by Kompas.com on Friday February 25.

"The hacking and disinformation attack against AJI Chairperson Sasmito Madrim is an attempt to terrorise activists who struggle for freedom of expression and democracy", the group said.

The AJI stated that the hacking attack began on February 23 and targeted Madrim's personal WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook accounts as well as his personal mobile phone number.

All of the posted content on his Instagram account was deleted then the hacker uploaded Madrim's private mobile number.

Madrim's mobile number was subsequently unable to receive phone calls or SMS messages. On his Facebook account, Madrim's profile photograph was replaced with a pornographic picture.

On February 24, the AJI monitored a disinformation attack which included Madrim's name and photograph on social media.

The narrative being disseminated was that Madrim supported the government's 2020 banning of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), supports the government's construction of the Bener Dam in Purworejo regency and has asked the police to arrest Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti, two activists who were criminalised by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.

The AJI Indonesia asserts that these messages are false and such views have never been expressed by Madrim.

"These three [pieces of] disinformation are clearly an attempt to play AJI Indonesia off against other civil society organisations, including to pit AJI against the residents of Wadas [Village] which is currently fighting against the exploitation of natural restores in its village", wrote the AJI.

The AJI Indonesia is asking the public not to believe the narrative of disinformation spreading on social media and to support them in fighting for press freedom, the right to freedom of expression, association, opinion and the right to information.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Kecam Peretasan Terhadap Ketumnya, AJI: Ancaman Serius Bagi Kebebasan Pers".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2022/02/25/13254991/kecam-peretasan-terhadap-ketumnya-aji-ancaman-serius-bagi-kebebasan-pers