Playboy magazine’s editor-in-chief and first centerfold model in Indonesia were formally named by police Thursday as suspects in an indecency case against the publication.
Authorities said they were investigating Kartika Gunawan, a woman who posed in lingerie in a premiere edition here in April, and Erwin Arnada, the editor. They could be prosecuted, and if convicted, imprisoned for two years and eight months.
The magazine’s Indonesian launch caused a stir in the predominantly Muslim nation of 220 million, prompting the publisher to relocate its offices from the capital of Jakarta to the more liberal resort island of Bali. A second edition was released in June.
The legal action against Playboy comes as a small, hard-line Islamic bloc in parliament is pushing a bill to ban art, culture and literature deemed erotic or offensive.
Opponents say the so-called anti-pornography legislation, which has drawn tens of thousands of demonstrators on both sides of the issue, would undermine Indonesia’s secular traditions.
Under Indonesian law, declaring someone a suspect is a formal step in a police procedure, indicating there is enough initial evidence to build a case for trial.
Arnada, a seasoned Indonesian journalist named as a suspect, could not be reached for comment.
Looking into ‘decency violation’
Earlier, police investigators “upgraded” Gunawan’s status to suspect, said defense attorney Sinarta Bangun. They are being investigated for breaking an article of Indonesia’s criminal code, known as a “decency violation.”
As a professional model, Gunawan believed she was dealing with a legal magazine that publishes images within limits set by the government, the lawyer said.
Gunawan said she was worried, but had the “full support” of her family.
“I am not sorry, because every decision I made was well considered. I was not trying to make a sensation, many more people posed more vulgar than I did,” Gunawan told reporters after being questioned by police Thursday.
Before working for Playboy, Gunawan was a relatively unknown television actress who was featured in several soap operas but had never modeled professionally or posed in other publications, her agent said.
Jakarta police spokesman Col. Ketut Untung Yoga said he could not immediately comment.
The American magazine, which has 20 international editions, toned down its content for Indonesian readers, but the release of 100,000 copies nonetheless drew violent protests from hard-liners who said it was immoral and illegal.
Unlike versions in more than a dozen languages, Indonesian Playboy contains no nudity. The company has, however, become the focus of conservative, anti-American sentiment in the secular nation.
A group known as the Islamic Defenders’ Front — which has a history of attacking bars and nightclubs and stoned the Playboy office in April — threatened action against the publishers.
Frightened advertisers responded by pulling their ads.