TPNPB leader Egianus Kogoya denies ransom demand

Commander of the Defense Area Command or Kodam III Ndugama Darakma of the West Papua National Liberation Army Egianus Kogoya. - Video screenshot of Egianus Kogoya

Enarotali, Jubi – Egianus Kogoya, one of the leaders of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) has denied that he demanded a ransom of Rp 5 billion (US$ 329,000) for the release of Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens. Kogoya made this statement in a video received by Jubi on Saturday, July 8, 2023.

According to Kogoya, he never approached Indonesia or anyone else for Rp 5 billion. He urged people not to believe the media reports from Indonesia because he never asked for money, he stated in the video.

The joint forces of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Police has been trying to rescue Philip Mark Mehrtens after he was held hostage by the TPNPB group led by Egianus Kogoya. The incident took place on February 7, 2023, in Nduga Regency, where Kogoya’s group seized the Susi Air plane piloted by Mehrtens and subsequently set it on fire.

Some security officials claimed that Kogoya had demanded a ransom of Rp 5 billion. However, Kogoya firmly stated that he never made any ransom demands for the release of the New Zealand pilot.

Kogoya requested that everyone disregard the narrative suggesting he asked for ransom money. He clarified that he held Philip Mark Mehrtens hostage to strengthen the political position of the Papuan people, who are advocating for independence.

“I want to make it clear that I am holding the pilot as a means to achieve an independent Papua. We will not accept Rp 5 billion. Once Papua becomes independent, we will release the pilot,” he said.

Kogoya also accused the media of spreading false news. “It’s absurd to claim that I asked for money. The Indonesian media has distorted the facts. I did not ask for money; I captured the pilot to seek independence,” he stated. (*)

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