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Polish tourist jailed in Indonesia for links to Papuan rebels

Warsaw, Poland – Jakub Skrzypski, a Polish tourist in Indonesia accused of being part of a plot to sell arms to the Free Papua Organisation (OPM), has been sentenced to five years in jail by the Wamena City Court in Indonesia’s restive West Papua province. His co-defendant, Papuan student Simon Magal, was also sentenced to 4 years.

The 39-year old Polish tourist was arrested in August and accused of plotting to overthrow the government and making contact with leaders of the separatist group, outlawed in Indonesia. Prosecutors said Skrzypski was found with documents and video detailing the Papuan struggle for independence.

“The charges of treason have been proven legally and convincingly,” said the Wamena district court head judge.

The five-year sentence was lighter than the 10 years’ jail demanded by prosecutors. Skrzypski nevertheless maintains his innocence and his lawyer said she would appeal the decision in a Papuan High Court.

“I wasn’t caught red-handed. I didn’t have any forbidden materials on me. They tried to sentence me, to judge me, only because of their assumptions of what I [was] supposed to think, of what I was supppsed to try to do, that’s it. Nothing more,” said Skrzypski, speaking briefly to reporters from behind bars.

A spokesperson for Poland‘s Foreign Ministry told the Associated Press on Thursday that every effort was being made to help him.

Indonesia is deeply sensitive about West Papua, where a low-level insurgency against the central government has simmered for years, and routinely blames separatists for violence in the region. Andreas Harsono, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said it would deter foreigners and especially journalists from travelling to the province.

West Papua shares a border with independent Papua New Guinea (PNG), just north of Australia.