The Indonesian government has banned Schapelle Corby from doing a TV interview because it will cause “restlessness” in the local community.
If she goes ahead anyway, local authorities have threatened to revoke her parole and send her back to Kerobokan prison.
The unexpected intervention will throw into disarray the plans of both the Corby family and the Seven Network’s Sunday Night program to make a fortune from the exclusive interview.
Deputy justice and human rights minister Denny Indrayana said in Bali late on Thursday that he and his minister were “of the same belief” that an interview would breach the regulations governing prisoners on parole.
“If you’re going to do the interview, especially if it’s going to be paid, it will cause … restlessness in the community, so I have instructed the officer here at the Corrections Bureau to advise the family not to do it, because in the end, it will, to our understanding, cause polemic.”
“It’s going to cause polemic, so it’s possible that we will revoke her parole.”
Dr Denny’s boss, the minister, Amir Syamsuddin, had earlier accused Corby of planning to “profit from something that will upset people.”
TV journalist Mike Willesee, who since Monday has been waiting in the same luxury compound as Corby to interview the Australian drug smuggler, declined to comment to Fairfax Media immediately after Mr Denny’s announcement.
Corby’s parole conditions are simple, but government regulations allow broad political discretion for it to be revoked, including the “restlessness” clause, and Corby’s behaviour since being released on Monday has caused anger in an election year, putting pressure on politicians to crack down on her.
Corby’s choice of expensive accommodation rather than the family compound listed on parole documents, the interview, and Tuesday’s picture of her drinking beer in the clothes she was wearing when released from Kerobokan have all caused media and public controversy in Indonesia. The backlash includes accusations that the government has conspired with the Australian government to give her special treatment.
Dr Denny insisted that Corby “has her freedom of speech, but her release was with conditions”.
In a statement before the Indonesian government intervention, Corby’s sister Mercedes was oblivious of the pending order, saying: “When Schapelle is ready to speak, the parole officers will be informed.”
The head of the Bali Corrections Bureau (Bapas) Ketut Artha later said he had taken the deputy minister’s advice as an instruction. He was likely to relay that to the Corby family on Friday morning.
“We might go there … or we might speak to the guarantor [Corby's Balinese brother-in-law Wayan Widyartha]“.
Mr Ketut, who has resolutely defended Corby’s right to live where she wanted within Bali, has also now suggested that she move as soon as she is ready.
“Though she’s not breaching any condition that we know of, we’ll make a suggestion that she does not stay there after she’s fit,” he said.
The deputy speaker of Indonesia’s house of representatives was quoted by Indonesian media on Thursday as doubting the integrity of the parole decision.
“It would appear there really has been international lobbying [in the Corby case],” he said.
The president’s parliamentary opponents are hoping to drag out the negative press for the outgoing Indonesian president, in this election year.
The president is being criticised for, on the one hand, taking a tough anti-drugs line, while also issuing Corby a generous five-year remission on her sentence in 2012.
Several members of the parliament’s legal affairs commission have foreshadowed an official parliamentary inquiry.
“Corby deserved the death penalty from the start,” MP and committee member, Sarifuddin Sudding, said, while adding an inquiry had widespread support and been canvassed privately.
Last night the a member of the President’s cabinet tweeted critically about Corby; communications minister Tifatul Sembiring described her as hiding her face “behind a veil of fantasy”.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian media has been running hot with conspiracy theories about what motivated Corby’s release, including that Corby was released to secure an assurance from Australia to stop wiretapping the phones of Indonesian officials.
Before the extraordinary Indonesian intervention, Mercedes Corby had said again that reports of a $2 million to $3 million payment for the exclusive were “ridiculous”.
“Recent media reports about payment to Schapelle for an interview are completely wrong. The sums being reported are ridiculous,” Mercedes said in a video shot by the Channel Seven network team in place for the Schapelle interview.
Mercedes also used the 42 second statement to hit back at Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, who is seeking to stop the family making any profit from the interview, because it is a proceed of crime.
“I am deeply concerned, in fact I am dismayed, that a convicted drug criminal has benefited it appears from her criminal activity,” Mr Newman said on Wednesday.
Mercedes Corby responded that, “Despite his comments,” Mr Newman had been “so interested in this story that his government gave $567,000 for the production of a film for the Nine Network called Schapelle. This film was biased and inaccurate. It was based on a book where the major source was a convicted criminal.”
– Sydney Morning Herald