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Indonesia charges Pole suspected in Papua arms smuggling plot

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By Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A Pole detained in Indonesia late last month could face life imprisonment having been charged with plotting against the state after being named as a suspect in a conspiracy to smuggle arms to separatists in Papua, a police spokesman said on Monday.

Jakub Fabian Skrzypski was detained on Aug. 26 and is being held at police headquarters in the eastern province of Papua where he has been charged along with three Papuans under the law governing treason, which carries a maximum sentence of life in jail.

“He has been charged with treason,” Papua police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said.

Police allege that Skrzypski, who entered the country on a tourist visa, discussed an arms deal in a meeting with a separatist leader, who is based in neighbouring Papua New Guinea and has not been detained.

Police had evidence from witnesses and mobile phone messages and they had also found video showing Skrzypski participating in shooting practice, the spokesman said.

Papua, one of Indonesia’s poorest provinces has battled a long-running separatist movement since it was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969 and it remains the country’s most heavily militarized region.

The Polish embassy in Jakarta did not respond to a request for comment.

Although President Joko Widodo has promised to ease media curbs in Papua, but foreign journalists often face challenges in reporting from the region.

A BBC journalist was forced to leave Papua this year after the military said messages she posted on social network Twitter during her assignment had been misleading.

(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)