Indonesia Deports American Journalist

By: (AP) An American freelance journalist was deported from Indonesia Monday after immigration officers said he entered the country illegally, despite granting him a visa when he arrived three weeks ago, the immigration department said.

William Nessen, who is from New York, was detained Sunday after visiting the tsunami-ravaged Aceh region. In 2003, the freelance journalist was imprisoned in Indonesia after he spent three weeks on the run with separatist rebels in the province.

Nessen's articles on Aceh have been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and Australia's Sydney Morning Herald.

Immigration spokesman Muhammad Indra said airport officials issued a visa to Nessen because they were unaware that a ban on his entry had been extended from August 2004 until August 2005.

Nessen, from New York, was detained as he tried to leave Aceh and he was taken to the capital, Jakarta, on a plane chartered by immigration officials. Indra said Nessen was deported Monday evening.

Nessen told The Associated Press he was unaware he had been barred from visiting the country.

Nessen, whose wife is Acehnese, spent 40 days in jail in Aceh in 2003 for violating his visa by spending three weeks with separatist rebels from the Free Aceh Movement. During his time with the guerrillas, he contacted international media and accused the military of wanting to kill him.

The government banned foreigners from entering insurgency-torn Aceh for two years until the Dec. 26 tsunami, when Jakarta was forced to open the province to international troops, aid workers, and journalists.

Rebels have been fighting since 1976 for an independent homeland in the resource-rich province. The guerrillas are outlawed in Indonesia, and supporting their movement is illegal.


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