Police arrest 2 for spreading hoax about millions of tampered ballots from China aimed at helping Jokowi

Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photo: Reuters
Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photo: Reuters

Indonesia’s National Police have arrested two people believed to have spread a hoax on social media alleging a massive ballot tampering scheme to help President Joko Widodo win reelection in April.

On Wednesday, the hoax — which took the form of a voice recording — went viral across many social media platforms. A man’s voice in the recording is heard saying that seven huge containers had arrived in North Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok Port, likely from China, each containing 10 million ballot papers that had already been perforated to represent a vote for Jokowi in the upcoming election.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) went to investigate the port that evening and were immediately able to deny the hoax’s claims. The commission then filed a complaint to the National Police’s Crime Investigation Agency (Bareskrim).

This morning, the police arrested two people — one in Bogor, West Java and the other in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan — but it doesn’t appear that they were creators of the hoax.

“The two were found by our cyber investigation team to have received [the hoax] and made it go viral on social media and WhatsApp,” National Police Spokesman Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo told reporters today, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

The two are still under investigation and haven’t been formally charged yet, but it’s possible that they could charged with causing a public disturbance by spreading fake news, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison under the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE).

The hoax was seized upon by some in the opposition as an opportunity to attack President Jokowi’s campaign. Among them was Democratic Party politician Andi Arief (who famously claimed that Sandiaga Uno paid IDR1 trillion in political “dowry” to become Prabowo Subianto’s running mate), who tweeted that the KPU should investigate the hoax’s claims. The tweet has been deleted.

Among the most common hoaxes about President Jokowi are those alleging that he is pandering to China and that the Chinese government is aiding his re-election effort. There are also more extreme hoaxes that say that Jokowi is secretly a Chinese-Christian or that he’s secretly a member of the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

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