Indonesia sets conditions for release of Abu Bakar Bashir


An 80-year-old Muslim cleric imprisoned in Indonesia on terrorism charges should only be released if he pledges allegiance to the state, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday. 

Last week, Joko said cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, who is serving a 15-year jail term, would be granted compassionate release because he was old and frail.

But his security minister, Wiranto, announced on Monday that the plan was being reviewed, taking into account legal technicalities and other issues. 

"The conditions must be fulfilled, including a pledge of allegiance to the Unitary State of Indonesia and Pancasila," Joko said, referring to the state's secular ideology which includes recognition of one God. "These things are of principal importance," he added.

Bashir is considered the spiritual leader of the Islamist group Jemaah Islamiah, whose members were responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people and a string of other attacks in Indonesia since 2000.

Bashir was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011 for helping fund a training camp for Islamist militants in Aceh province and inciting militants to carry out terrorist attacks.

Joko's legal advisor, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, said that Bashir had refused to sign the allegiance pledge. Bashir had told him that his loyalty was only to God and Islam, Mahendra said.    (dpa)

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