Indonesian police detain people suspected of spreading misinformation

JAKARTA: Police in the Indonesian capital said on Monday (May 4) they had detained 10 people for allegedly spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

The detainees will likely face charges of spreading false news and engaging in hate speech through social media and instant messaging, said Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus (pic).

Police said the suspects are believed to have spread unsubstantiated rumours about virus-related deaths and inaccurate information about the lockdown, as well as insulting comments about government ministers.

They could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of violating the country's tough electronic information law.

Police are investigating upwards of 400 further cases of virus-related misinformation-spreading, the spokesperson said, and have arrested more than 100 people since early March.

Indonesia confirmed an additional 395 coronavirus cases and 19 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 11,587 infections and 864 deaths.

Meanwhile, cigarette maker HM Sampoerna, a unit of Philip Morris International, said it had closed its factory in Surabaya, the country's second largest city, after two employees died of Covid-19.

"Our priority is the safety of our employees by implementing health protocols prescribed by the government," company spokesperson Elvira Lianita said in a statement.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday urged authorities to evaluate the effectiveness of the partial lockdown imposed in parts of the country since last month.

"This needs to be looked into, whether measures are too excessive, or too lax," he said.

Large gatherings are banned and non-essential businesses closed, as widespread restrictions on travel remain in place. - dpa
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