JAYAPURA, Indonesia (AP) — Two French television journalists were sentenced to two and a half months in jail Friday for illegal reporting in Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua.
Thomas Dandois, 40, and Valentine Bourrat, 29, were detained for tourist visa violation in August in Jayapura, the capital of Papua, after filming a documentary about separatist movement in a mountainous area of Wamena along with three suspected rebels.
The two who work for Franco-German television channel Arte were convicted by a panel of three judges in Jayapura District Court of violating the 2011 Immigration Law. They also were fined $200.
"The defendants were very cooperative and admitted their mistakes, and we considered that to lighten their sentence," presiding judge Marthinus Bala told the court, adding that the two would be freed and immediately deported after counting their time served.
Their Indonesian lawyer, Aristo Pangaribuan, said his clients would walk free on Monday.
Both journalists and state prosecutors, who sought a 4-month jail term, have decided to not appeal.
"I want to go home," Dandois told the court when responding the verdict.
Indonesia is highly sensitive to the separatist struggles in Papua, a former Dutch colony taken over in 1963. The government restricts visits by human rights workers and journalists, and pro-independent activists have been given lengthy prison terms for peacefully expressing their views, organizing rallies or for simply raising separatist flags.
Though Indonesia's sovereignty over Papua was formalized in 1969 through a stage-managed vote, a small, poorly armed separatist movement has battled for independence ever since.