After the tsunami of late December 2004, Indonesian authorities allowed local and foreign media unprecedented access to the hard-hit province of Aceh. Some restrictions on foreign journalists traveling outside of Banda Aceh and on reporters covering military affairs remained in effect. Local and foreign journalists were harassed and threatened by intelligence officers after trying to report on the conflict between the government and the rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which signed a peace accord in August.

Using antiquated criminal laws dating back to Indonesia's colonial era, a district court in the city of Lampung found two journalists guilty of defamation in May and sentenced them to nine months in prison. Darwin Ruslinur, chief editor of the weekly tabloid Koridor, and Budiono Saputro, the paper's managing editor, were freed pending appeal.

Elyuddin Telaumbanua, a reporter based on the island of Nias, was reported missing five days after leaving his house on an assignment for the Medan-based Berita Sore in August. An editor at the newspaper told local media that Telaumbanua may have disappeared while investigating a murder in the island's southern district. He had also recently reported on criminal gangs, local corruption, and irregularities in local elections. Colleagues feared the journalist had been murdered.

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