Indonesian Twitter Celeb Named Suspect for ‘Libelous’ Tweet

A screen shot of the profile of the Twitter account @benhan, owned by Jakarta-based blogger Benny Handoko. (JG Photo)

A screen shot of the profile of the Twitter account @benhan, owned by Jakarta-based blogger Benny Handoko. (JG Photo)

A Jakarta-based blogger has been named a defamation suspect after being reported by former Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker Muhammad Misbakhun to the police for one of his tweets.

Misbakhun reported Benny Handoko, who tweets under the username @benhan, to the police in December 2012 for a tweet that called him a robber who stole money from Bank Century, the now-defunct bank at the center of a 2008 government bailout scandal.

“Benny Handoko has been named a suspect based on the results of the investigation,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said on Friday.

He added the suspect status was in fact issued on May 13, but Benny ignored police summons for questioning on May 20.

Rikwanto said Benny would be charged with defamation under Article 27 of the Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) Law.

Misbakhun was sentenced in 2010 to two years in jail for forging documents to obtain loans from Bank Century, now renamed Bank Mutiara. He resigned from PKS after being named a suspect in the case, and subsequently lost his seat at the House of Representatives.

In July 2012, however, the Supreme Court overturned the 2010 conviction, meaning Misbakhun should not have been imprisoned in the first place.

Therefore, Misbakhun said the tweet from @benhan calling him a robber was libelous.

Despite not being a public figure, Benny is considered a celebrity in the Indonesian Twitter universe with more than 46,000 followers. He hasn’t commented on his suspect status, and has been unusually silent on Twitter for the past two days.