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Detained American on hunger strike in Indonesia

February 17, 1997

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ A U.S. citizen accused of possession of pornography has begun a hunger strike to protest his detention, officials said on Monday.

Jack Gilbert West, 50, was arrested Jan. 31 and transferred Feb. 4 into the custody of the Jakarta immigration office for deportation. His hometown or state were not available.

Police say he was detained for possessing pronographic pictures and for working in Indonesia as an English teacher without an employment permit.

No charges were pressed; authorities decided to deport him.

West will be sent home as soon as somebody pays for his ticket, said Gani, an Immigration Office spokesman. Apparently, neither the United States nor Indonesia wants to pay for his flight.

The U.S. Embassy refused to comment on the case beyond saying that appropriate consular assistance has been provided to West.

On Monday, the Jakarta Post and other newspapers published excerpts from a letter they said was from West. In it, he wrote that he began his hunger strike Sunday to protest the ``unclear″ reasons for his detention.

Gani, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, confirmed West was fasting but refused to give details. He said West was at the immigration office complex.

The news reports quoted West’s letter as saying the ``so-called offensive pictures would not raise an eyebrow in any Western country.″

West, who says he has no money, wrote that ``if the U.S. government won’t loan me the funds to go home, then they can ship my corpse home.″

West apparently has lived in Indonesia for several years, leaving the country periodically to get fresh tourist visas, officials said. Zaiman Nurmatias, the chief of law enforcement in the immigration office, said West is married to an Indonesian and they have two children.

Update hourly