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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Indonesia Playboy editor cleared
Erwin Arnada (centre) is escorted into court by police in Jakarta on 5 April 2007
Mr Arnada said he would continue to publish the same content
The editor of Playboy magazine in Indonesia has been acquitted of charges of publishing indecent material.

Erwin Arnada oversaw photo shoots and selected revealing pictures for the US magazine, prosecutors argued, but the judge said they were not pornography.

Mr Arnada said the ruling proved "press freedom is respected in this country".

He had argued that the magazine, which went on sale last year, contained no nudity and was tamer than other Western-style magazines also available.

Muslim protesters who have forced the publishers to relocate to Bali said Thursday's verdict was "a bitter pill" and vowed to continue fighting against pornography.

Hundreds of police officers with water cannon surrounded the court house in anticipation of trouble.

Weeks of protests

The Indonesian version of the magazine went on sale for the first time last April, featuring several scantily-clad models but no nudity.

It drew weeks of protests, despite the fact that pornography is widely available in Indonesia.

Protesters opposing the verdict
We will keep fighting. Pornography is a moral crime that destroys the nation's faith
Bachtiar Ali
Muslim protester

Muslim groups in particular were worried about its effect on local morals.

The publishers - who brought out a second edition with similar content in June - had to move to Bali after their offices were stoned.

The row over Playboy is part of a wider debate in Indonesia about the country's indecency laws, says the BBC's Lucy Williamson in Jakarta.

In the wake of the controversy, activists filed a lawsuit against parliament over a controversial anti-pornography bill.

They said the legislation - which would make kissing in public and erotic dancing illegal - would impose strict Islamic values and threaten the country's reputation for tolerance.

Judge's reasons

Announcing the verdict on Mr Arnada, South Jakarta district court judge Efran Basyuning said the pictures "could not be categorised as pornography".

Shortly afterwards, Mr Arnada told a news conference the ruling was "a great gift for Playboy Indonesia because up until today for one year my friends and I worked under pressure".

The magazine's director, Erwin Arnada, holds the first edition
Publishers of the magazine had to move location after threats

"Playboy Indonesia is grateful to the readers and advertisers who have supported the magazine through this difficult time," he said. He would have faced two years in prison, if convicted.

The prosecution were assessing their next moves, but a lawyer representing Muslim groups said: "The road which we will take is refiling the complaint not only against Playboy but also against other adult magazines."

Angry Islamists said they rejected the verdict.

"This is a bitter pill," the Associated Press news agency quoted Bachtiar Ali, one of the organisers, as saying.

"Do we have to wait until our wives and daughters are raped?" he said. "We will keep fighting. Pornography is a moral crime that destroys the nation's faith."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
A look inside the controversial Indonesian edition



SEE ALSO
Indonesia Playboy editor on trial
07 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesian fears over porn law
25 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Anti-pornography rally in Jakarta
21 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Moves to stop Indonesian Playboy
13 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Playboy sparks Indonesia porn row
07 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
18 Oct 06 |  Country profiles



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