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Sunday, 9 February, 2003, 12:46 GMT
Jailed Briton freed after five months
Dr Lesley McCulloch
Dr McCulloch said she would continue campaigning
A Scottish woman has been released from jail in Indonesia, after spending five months behind bars for visa violations.

Dr Lesley McCulloch, 40, sent a text message to her parents reading: "I'm free!", just before 0200 GMT on Sunday.

She told reporters from the jail she planned to resume immediately her political campaigning against the Indonesian regime and its treatment of the rebellious Aceh province.

"I will travel overseas to campaign about the situation here and also in Indonesia," she said.

It will be absolutely marvellous to be able to talk freely with her, and to talk about family things

Mattie McCulloch
Lesley's mother

"I want to use my case as an example to highlight what the Acehnese are facing.

"I think the Indonesian government should reform its military, the law, and the democratic process."

Dr McCulloch, a lecturer originally from Dunoon in Argyll, attracted the attention of the Indonesian authorities after writing a string of critical articles about the conflict in the region.

'Terrible five months'

She was first arrested on spying charges after visiting a separatist rebel camp in Aceh.

Together with 57-year-old American nurse Joy Saddler, she was convicted by a court in Banda Aceh on 30 December of the lesser charge of visa violation.

Dr McCulloch was given five months and Mrs Sadler four months. Both had already served three months in jail on remand, and Mrs Saddler was released last month.

map of  Aceh

Dr McCulloch will fly to Kuala Lumpar and on to Bangkok before returning to Britain on Wednesday.

She will then head back to her job at the University of Tasmania.

Her mother Mattie McCulloch said she was relieved to know her daughter was finally free.

"It's been a terrible five months and now I feel like running down the road and screaming my head off, but I have to wait until I hear her voice," she said.

"It will be absolutely marvellous to be able to talk freely with her, and to talk about family things."

Mrs McCulloch was "quite sure" her daughter would eventually return to Indonesia, she added.

'Own life'

"I definitely wish she would not go back, but I can't do anything about that - she's a grown woman with her own life to lead."

She said her daughter was "passionate" about the people of the Asian continent.

The trial judge told Dr McCulloch she had "threatened national security and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Indonesia".

Dr McCulloch insisted she had been on holiday at the time she was arrested, and claimed both the charges and the trial were politically motivated.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rachel Harvey reports
"Prosecutors repeatedly demanded bribes in return for a lighter sentence"
See also:

30 Dec 02 | Scotland
30 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
27 Nov 02 | Scotland
26 Sep 02 | Scotland
20 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
07 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
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