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British Journalists to Be Released From Jail and Deported From Indonesia

Becky Prosser and Neil Bonner travelled to the southeast Asian country to make a documentary about piracy for National Geographic TV. They were arrested on May 28 for reporting on tourist visas.

by Sally Hayden
Nov 3 2015, 10:20am

Imágenes cedidas por las familias Prosser y Bonner

Two British journalists who were arrested in May are to be deported from Indonesia after being sentenced to two months and 15 days for reporting without accreditation.

Becky Prosser and Neil Bonner traveled to the southeast Asian country to make a documentary about piracy for National Geographic TV. They were arrested off the island of Batam on May 28 for reporting on tourist visas.

The journalists were facing up to five years in prison, but are now expected to be deported imminently because of the time they served in advance of their trial.

"The defendants have been proven legally and convincingly guilty of committing a criminal offence as foreigners," Judge Wahyu Prasetyo Wibowo said.

In a statement sent to VICE News, the families of the two journalists said: "After five months detention, 7,000 miles away, we can hardly believe we will finally get Becky and Neil home. We are so relieved this ordeal is nearly over.

"We have been bowled over by the support we have received from around the world and especially that of the Indonesian journalist community who held a rally in support of Becky and Neil. We just ask that deportation is swift so that we don't have to wait any longer to give them a hug."

Dennis Bonner, Neil's father, added: "This is the most fantastic news. Hopefully the formalities will be carried out swiftly so they both can be back home with their loved ones. I would like to thank everyone for their support during this dark time."

Meanwhile, Neil said the guilty verdict made the world's fourth-most populous country a "more dangerous landscape for journalists."

"I feel a sense of sadness because it's journalism on trial and we have been found guilty," Neil told reporters. "I don't think journalism is a crime."

Last year, two French journalists were convicted of misusing their tourist visas to work as journalists in the politically sensitive Papua province and spent 11 weeks in detention before being sent back to France.

The court also fined the two 25 million rupiah ($1,845) each. The prosecution had asked for a five-month jail term. 

Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: @sallyhayd

Reuters contributed to this report