Authorities accused Skrzypski of collaborating with members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a separatist organization which advocates for a non-violent approach to gain independence.
Polish tourist Jakub Skrzypski maintains his innocence as the first foreigner in Indonesia to be found guilty of treason and receive a sentence of five years in prison.
Skrzypski was arrested in Papua, which is located on the far east of Indonesia, in August of last year. The 39-year-old plans to appeal the sentence, saying he was a victim of a politically motivated "show trial. I didn't have the opportunity to speak in my defense or to present any favorable evidence. I reject the trial as well as the verdict," he told reporters.
Authorities accused Skrzypski of collaborating with members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a separatist organization which advocates for a non-violent approach to gain independence. According to his lawyer, Latifah Anum Siregar, "he was a tourist and he was just visiting friends that he met over the internet and other people who he had been recommended to meet who turned out to be activists."
Along with Skrzypski, student Simon Magal, the nephew of a prominent West Papua activist Yosepha Alomang was also held. Magal had been jailed previously for a campaign against the Freeport McMoran goldmine in the province.
While the organization is not outlawed in the country, public demonstrations in support of the movement are. It is also illegal to fly the Papua independence flag.
Siregar pointed out at the trial that the grounds for accusing her client of treason are unfounded because the KNPB was not registered or classified as banned. The KNBP is one of four separatist campaigns in the region.
Indonesian authorities also claim that Skrzypski attempted to arrange an arms deal for the group, but this accusation was not mentioned at the trial. According to Papua police spokesperson Suryadi Diaz, "he (Skrzypski) has been involved in buying ammunition for them."
Skrzypski denies all accusations, saying that he does not "even know [the conflict in Papua] very well" and reiterated that the "trip wasn't a clandestine one. I was visiting friends."
The Indonesian military and police are documented as being suspicious of foreigners who communicate with Papuans. "The Skrzypski-Magal case is another example that the Indonesian government keeps blocking media access and deters independent reporting about Papua," Indonesia's representative for Human Rights Watch, Andreas Harsono, stated.
Despite the country promising to allow access to the media, the territory has remained restricted to international journalists.