FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
PAPUAN SEPARATIST CHARGED WITH THE MURDERS OF TWO AMERICANS, ATTEMPTED MURDERS OF OTHERS DURING 2002 AMBUSH IN INDONESIA
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein of the District of Columbia, and FBI Director Robert Mueller announced that a joint U.S.-Indonesian investigation has led to the indictment of Indonesian citizen Anthonius Wamang in connection with the deadly attack in August 2002 on a group of American schoolteachers returning from a picnic near Tembagapura, located in the remote Papua Province of Indonesia.
The indictment, returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., on June 16, 2004 and unsealed today, charges Wamang, 32, with two counts of murder of U.S. citizens outside the United States, eight counts of attempted murder of U.S. citizens outside the United States, seven counts of causing serious bodily injury to U.S. citizens outside the United States, and two firearms charges. Three of the charges in the indictment are punishable by the death penalty.
“The U.S. government is committed to tracking down and prosecuting terrorists who prey on innocent Americans in Indonesia and around the world,” said Attorney General Ashcroft. “Terrorists will find that they cannot hide from U.S. justice - whether in the world’s largest cities or in the most remote jungles of Asia.”
“The brutal terrorist attack charged in this indictment was an unprovoked ambush of an innocent group of Americans who were in Indonesia to teach school,” said Assistant Attorney General Wray. “The Department of Justice will work tirelessly to see that those responsible for such terrorist acts are brought to justice.”
“This case is an example of outstanding investigative work and the dogged determination of FBI Agents and prosecutors to ensure that those who attack Americans abroad are brought to justice. I look forward to working cooperatively with the authorities in Indonesia as we pursue our mutual interest in prosecuting this defendant,” said U.S. Attorney Wainstein.
“This investigative effort illustrates the importance of international cooperation to combat terrorism and what can be accomplished when countries partner in this effort,” said FBI Director Mueller. “The cooperation extended by the Indonesian government enabled the FBI to work in the remotest areas of Indonesia and identify the party responsible for this terrible crime.”
The charges in the indictment stem from an attack that occurred on Aug. 31, 2002, when 10 schoolteachers and a 6-year-old child were ambushed as they were returning from a picnic to their residences in Tembagapura, Papua Province, Indonesia. While traveling on the road in two vehicles, the victims were ambushed by heavy gunfire. The attack resulted in the death of two American citizens, Ricky Lynn Spier and Leon Edwin “Ted” Burgon, and one Indonesian citizen, Bambang Riwanto. Seven of the eight surviving American victims were seriously wounded.
The adult victims named in the indictment were contract employees of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Mine, Inc. (“Freeport”), which operates the world’s largest gold and copper mine, in Papua Province. As alleged in the indictment, at the time they were attacked, the victims were traveling on the Timika-Tembagapura Road, also known as the Freeport Road, which was built by Freeport and runs approximately 75 miles from the sea, through the town of Timika and north to Tembagapura, where the mine is located in the mountains at approximately 14,000 feet above sea level.
Papua Province is also known as Irian Jaya Province. As alleged in the indictment, the “Free Papua Movement,” also known as “OPM,” is an organization devoted to creating a Papuan state independent from the Republic of Indonesia. The “National Freedom Force,” also known as the “TPN,” is the military arm of the OPM. The indictment alleges that, at the time of the attack, Wamang was an operational commander in the OPM/TPN.
The Indonesian National Police and the FBI are conducting this investigation in close cooperation, and are attempting to identify additional participants in the murders.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg A. Maisel and DOJ Trial Attorney T.J. Reardon, III, of the Counterterrorism Section of the Criminal Division. The case has been investigated jointly by the Indonesian National Police and the Washington Field Office of the FBI, with the support of the Indonesian government and the United States Embassy in Jakarta. U.S. Attorney’s Office employee Karen Evans is providing assistance to the prosecutors.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant violated a criminal law. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.