Bambang Harymurti

Bambang Harymurti ([ˈbambaŋ hariˈmʊrti]; born 10 December 1956), commonly referred to by his initials BHM,[1] is an Indonesian journalist and editor-in-chief of Tempo. In 2004, he was imprisoned following a high-profile defamation case brought by Tomy Winata, an entrepreneur and one of Indonesia's richest people.[2] He is currently serving as deputy chair of Indonesia's Press Council.[3]

Bambang Harymurti
P06409PS-0571 (3594694537).jpg
Barack Obama participates in an roundtable interview in 2009 with among others Jamal Khashoggi and Bambang Harymurti
Born (1956-12-10) 10 December 1956 (age 63)
EducationBandung Institute of Technology
Spouse(s)Marga Alisjahbana


Harymurti was born on 10 December 1956, to air force pilot Ahmad Sudarsono and Karlina Koesoemadinata. As a child, he dreamed of becoming an astronaut.[1]

Early careerEdit

Harymurti holds received BS in electrical engineering from Bandung Institute of Technology in 1984[1] and an MPA from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[4] Although he hoped to apply for Indonesia's space program, he took a job with Tempo in 1982 to help support his family after his father's death.[1] He has worked for Tempo, TIME,[4] and Media Indonesia.[5] His journalism has won awards including the 1997 "Excellence in Journalism" award from the Indonesian Observer Daily and the 2006 PWI Jawa Timur Pena Award.[4] He served as the head of Tempo's offices in Washington, D.C from 1991 to 1994.[1][5]

While on assignment with Tempo to cover Indonesia's space program, Harymurti qualified as a potential astronaut.[1]

On 9 June 1997, Harymurti was suspended from his job as executive editor of Media Indonesia for two weeks. Harymurti stated that the suspension was for "not following orders" and forgetting to inform the head editor of Media Indonesia's Sunday Edition that the cover story should have been changed to an article about then-President Suharto's birthday. However, it was suspected that his suspension was due to Media Indonesia's anti-Suharto stance during the 1997 elections.[5]

Harymurti became chief editor of Tempo in 1999, replacing co-founder Goenawan Mohamad.[1]

Winata trialEdit

One of Harymutri's reporters, International Press Freedom Award winner[6] Ahmad Taufik, published an article on 3 March 2003 implicating Winata in the burning of the Tanah Abang textile market in Jakarta, a fire from which Winata allegedly stood to profit.[7] According to Taufik, he discovered following the fire that Winata had submitted plans for renovating the market only a few months before.[8]

On 7 March, the magazine was threatened with libel charges by Winata's lawyers; the following day, a group of over 200 protesters appeared at the Tempo offices and allegedly threatened to burn the office down,[9] gouge Taufik's eyes out, shouted racial insults,[10] and assaulted Taufik when he went outside to speak with them.[7] According to witnesses, when Harymurti went to the police station with reporter Karaniya Dharmasaputra to file a complaint, they were also beaten by protesters, this time within sight of police officers who did not intervene.[7]

Winata later filed a lawsuit, naming Taufik, his editor Iskandar Ali, and Harymurti as defendants.[7] The suit charged the three with libel, defamation, and refusing "to respect religious and moral norms".[7] BBC News described the case as being "widely criticised as an attack on Indonesia's press".[11] Harymurti called the charges "the biggest and worst scandal in [Indonesia's] legal system."[A][12] Harymutri's trial was also protested by international press freedom organisations such as ARTICLE 19, Freedom House, Index on Censorship, the World Press Freedom Committee, the World Association of Newspapers, Reporters Without Borders,[13] Canadian Journalists for Free Expression,[14] and The Committee to Protect Journalists.[7] Amnesty International issued an appeal on behalf of the reporters, naming them potential prisoners of conscience.[15] In a letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Human Rights Watch also criticised Indonesia's "more restrictive environment" for journalists, which it said Harymurti had come to symbolise.[16] US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz criticised the arrest in a New York Times editorial, stating that the trial had "implications far beyond the courtroom in Jakarta", describing it as a test for Indonesian democracy.[17]

On 16 September 2004, Harymurti was found guilty of "defamation and false reporting" and sentenced to a year in prison, while Taufik and Ali were exonerated.[18] The Central Jakarta Court's ruling that Tempo had to pay USD 55,000 in damages was later overturned.[9] Harymutri's sentence was also overturned unanimously by the Supreme Court of Indonesia on 9 February 2005, National Press Day in Indonesia.[19] A court spokesperson stated, "We want to ensure that journalists are protected",[13] and affirmed the National Press Law was lex specialis, above the criminal code (KUHP).[19] Harymurti welcomed the decision as "not a personal victory but a victory for all Indonesian journalists".[13]

Harymurti is currently serving as the deputy chair of Indonesia's Press Council.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Harymurti married his long-time friend Marga Alisjahbana in 1984. Together they have two children.[1]


  1. ^
    Original: ... "tuntutan ini adalah skandal paling buruk dan besar dalam dunia peradilan [Indonesia].


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Urip Hudiono (18 September 2004). "Bambang: If we lack credibility or integrity, we are worthless". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  2. ^ "Indonesia's 40 Richest: #35 Tomy Winata". Forbes. 7 September 2006. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b Bagus BT Saragih (21 May 2011). "New terrorism bill 'threatens the press'". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Bambang Harymurti". World Movement for Democracy. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Wawancara Bambang Harymurti: 'Ini Hanya Soal Rantai Komando yang Putus'" (in Indonesian). Tempo. 11 June 1997. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  6. ^ "Journalists Receive 1996 Press Freedom Awards". Committee to Protect Journalists. 1996. Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Indonesia: Journalists charged with criminal libel". Committee to Protect Journalists. 10 April 2003. Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  8. ^ Ellen Nakashima (29 April 2004). "Magazine Case Tests Indonesian Press Freedom". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  9. ^ a b Bambang Harymurti (25 October 2005). "Enemy at the Gate". University of Missouri School of Journalism. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  10. ^ Ahmad Taufik (6 September 2004). "Jawaban Ahmad Taufik Atas Replik Jaksa" (in Indonesian). Tempo. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Indonesia editor jailed for libel". BBC News. 16 September 2004. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  12. ^ Team Pembela Kasus Tempo (16 August 2004). "Pledooi Penasehat Hukum Bambang Harymurti" (in Indonesian). Tempo. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  13. ^ a b c "The Supreme Court overturns one-year prison sentence against Bambang Harymurti". Reporters Without Borders. 8 March 2006. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  14. ^ Arnold Amber (21 September 2004). "CJFE Condemns Sentencing of Bambang Harymurti". Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  15. ^ "Case Sheet: The Tempo Trials". Amnesty International. 2004. Archived from the original on 2 September 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  16. ^ Brad Adams (10 November 2004). "Safeguard Rights in Indonesia". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  17. ^ Paul Wolfowitz (16 September 2004). "The First Draft of Freedom". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  18. ^ Sukma N. Loppies (September 2004). "Split decision behind Tempo Verdict". Asia Views. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  19. ^ a b Thoso Priharnowo (9 February 2006). "MA Menangkan Bambang Harymurti" (in Indonesian). Tempo. Retrieved 3 June 2011.