Thu, 13 Mar 2003

Minister corrects arrest report

JAKARTA: Minister for Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda played down on Wednesday reports on the arrest of Indonesian citizens in the United States, saying it was merely the 24-hour detention part of the registration policy.

"It was not an arrest, it was part of the registration process and they were released within 24 hours," Hassan said after meeting with President Megawati Soekarnoputri on Wednesday.

His comment was in stark contrast to the information from the Indonesian Embassy in the United States that eight Indonesian were under detention for visa offenses. The eight citizens, according to the embassy, would go on trial on March 17.

The United States has put Indonesia on a list of countries whose male citizens over the age of 16 are required to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The move is part of the country's fight against terrorism.

Officials said earlier that as many as 50,000 Indonesians were working illegally in the United States. --JP