A former American citizen arrested for insulting President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo participated in the May 22 street protest staged in Jakarta by supporters of failed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, police said Wednesday.
Jerry Duane Gray (59) was arrested on May 28 at his house in Srengseng, Kembangan, West Jakarta. He was accused of spreading hatred and fake news. He had recently appeared in a YouTube video in which he accused Jokowi’s government of fraud and being infiltrated by communists.
“Right now, conditions in Indonesia are very worrying. There are so many cases of fraud committed by the current regime. It is clear that there are communist infiltrations and others entering Indonesia [and] they want to take the country for themselves. The people of Indonesia, not just the Muslims, we all have to unite, [we] must proceed until this country regains its integrity, until the name of the president of Indonesia is Prabowo, not the name right now,” he said in the brief video.
Gray also accused Jokowi of failing to abide by the Indonesian constitution, demanding the president be held legally accountable and step down before his second term commences in October.
Prabowo lost the April presidential election to Jokowi but is challenging the result in the Constitutional Court. His refusal to concede defeat led to protests in which eight people died in Jakarta. Police have said the violence was orchestrated and paid for.
Aircraft Mechanic & Conspiracy Theorist
Police on Wednesday said Gray was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, and moved to the United States when three years old. He became a US citizen and later served in the US Air Force for four years from 1978 to 1982. After leaving the US Air Force, he reportedly worked as an aircraft mechanic in Saudi Arabia for about four years. Some reports said he was the late Saudi King Fahd’s private aircraft mechanic.
In 1984, Gray reportedly converted to Islam. In 1985, he moved to Indonesia, married a woman from Garut, West Java, and worked as a diving instructor. He told police that he became an Indonesian citizen in 2010.
Gray also became a prolific author, writing at least 10 books in Indonesian, mostly expounding on conspiracy theories, tackling subjects from “deceptive” US foreign policy to Zionism and the 2004 Aceh tsunami to missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.
Reports said Gray once worked as a Metro TV news cameraman in Indonesia, gave advice on health matters and was also a distributor of bottled water.
Filmed After Rally
Gray has appeared in many YouTube videos in which he discusses Islamic themes and his books. But it was the short video of his criticism of Jokowi that landed him in trouble. Police said Gray had on May 22 joined the Jakarta rally in which supporters of Prabowo accused Jokowi of stealing the presidential election. Gray was reportedly present near the Sarinah shopping centre and the office of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu).
Police said that after the rally, Gray had joined fellow protesters at Wisma 9 hotel in Kebon Kacang, Central Jakarta, where an unnamed Islamic leader asked him to state his opinion on the political situation and recorded his response on his smartphone.
Mulyadi, the head of Gray’s neighbourhood unit, said Gray was angry and disappointed with the preacher for uploading the video to social media.
Police said Gray’s anti-Jokowi comments were provoked by a social media hoax story that claimed Indonesia’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) anti-riot police were infiltrated by Chinese communists.
Gray now faces charges under the 2008 Law on Electronic Information and Transactions, as well as charges under the Criminal Code that carry a 10-year jail penalty. Jakarta Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said police were looking for the man who uploaded the video of Gray.
West Jakarta Police chief Hengki Haryadi said Gray was a victim of social media hoaxes because he had been fooled by the Brimob hoax. He warned that such fake news could create hatred and cause social unrest. He urged the public to be smarter when viewing unverified “news” spread on social media and to avoid spreading fake news lest they end up in prison.