JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia has deported two French journalists for committing visa violations while shooting a documentary film in Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua, an official said Sunday.
The journalists, Jean Frank Pierre and Basille Marie Longhamp, were sent home Friday through Mozes Kilangin airport in Timika, said immigration office spokesman Agung Sampurno.
The pair were working on "The Explorers," a project about nature, culture and other attractions at several locations in the Indonesian province on the western part of New Guinea. Papua province, a former Dutch colony, is known for biodiversity and large mining reserves as well as a simmering separatist movement among its indigenous people, and foreign journalists face restrictions while working there.
Sampurno said the two French journalists had ordinary visas without necessary documents from related institutions.
He quoted local immigration chief Jesaya Samuel Enock as saying the journalists' activities were appropriate, as they were sponsored by the national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, but they had started working last week while their necessary documents were still being processed. Enock said they are being banned from entering Indonesia for next six months.
Local media reported Pierre and Longhamp were taken into custody when they were about to take pictures of Cartenz using a rented helicopter. They also planned to take pictures at locations in the neighboring province of West Papua.
Fabio Maria Lopes Costa of the Alliance of Independence Journalists denounced their deportations as contradicting the policy of President Joko Widodo to allow foreign journalists to cover the province.
Pierre and Longhamp are the third group of French journalists to be deported or punished for illegal coverage in Papua since 2010.
Two television journalists were detained in 2014 for tourist visa violations and were sentenced to two and a half months in jail for illegal reporting in the Papua. In 2010, two journalists were detained and then deported after filming a human rights rally by some 100 students.
Foreign journalists were then barred from reporting in Papua unless they receive a government permit.