#FreePhil: Free Philip Jacobson

Mongabay editor Philip Jacobson


31-JAN-2020: Philip Jacobson, an award-winning American editor for the non-profit environmental news site Mongabay, was deported from Indonesia today, January 31, 45 days after authorities in the city of Palangkaraya detained him over an alleged visa violation. Despite the long detention, including a four-day stint in prison, Jacobson ultimately was not charged with a crime: the original charge against him was dismissed.

Read the news: American journalist Philip Jacobson freed after prolonged detention in Indonesia

Parlin Bayu Hutabarat of Pakpahan Hutabarat Law Office with Philip Jacobson at Palangkaraya’s Tjilik Riwut Airport on January 31, 2020


Philip Jacobson, an award-winning editor for the environmental science news outlet Mongabay, was arrested for an alleged visa violation in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, on January 21. He is currently prevented from leaving the Indonesian city on the island of Borneo pending resolution of his case.

We are seeking the immediate dismissal of Phil’s case and deportation of Phil from Indonesia so he can return home to see his family.

Philip Jacobson at the Palangkaraya Class II detention center on January 22, 2020. Photo country of Yusi.

Phil has been fully cooperative with authorities in Palangkaraya. We intend to continue working in good faith with Indonesian authorities to resolve this issue. 

Mongabay Founder Rhett A. Butler on January 22, 2020

Jacobson, 30, was first detained on December 17, 2019 after attending a hearing between the Central Kalimantan parliament and the local chapter of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), Indonesia’s largest indigenous rights advocacy group.

He had travelled to the city shortly after entering Indonesia on a business visa for a series of meetings. The day he was due to leave, immigration authorities seized his passport, interrogated him for four hours and ordered him to remain in the city pending their investigation.

On January 21, more than a month later, Jacobson was formally arrested and taken into custody. He was informed that he faces charges of violating the 2011 immigration law and a prison sentence of up to five years.

Philip Jacobson on a beach in Indonesia.

Phil was detained after being present at a meeting with the Central Kalimantan parliament.  The indigenous rights organization the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) invited him to attend, to learn about the issues being discussed there. He was not sent there on a specific assignment and we aren’t aware of any allegations of him conducting journalistic interviews made by immigration. Immigration has only disclosed that they allege his activities were “not in accordance with the intent and purpose” of his business visa.

Mongabay Founder Rhett A. Butler on January 22, 2020

Jacobson’s arrest comes shortly after Human Rights Watch issued a report documenting rising violence against activists and environmentalists in Indonesia, and amid a growing sense that critical voices are being suppressed.

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It is critical that leaders in Indonesia hear your concern about Phil’s imprisonment. We are simply seeking Phil’s swift release. Though Phil has a deep love for Indonesia and its people, it is our expectation is that he would be immediately deported from the country upon release.



FreePhil ~ President @Jokowi Please free American editor Philip Jacobson: https://news.mongabay.com/2020/01/mongabay-editor-arrested-in-indonesia/ #freephiljacobson