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Indonesia frees ex-Playboy editor

Playboy Indonesia's former editor has been released from prison after the country's top court overturned his indecency conviction for publishing pictures of scantily clad women.

The long-running case has highlighted the growing militancy of a vocal fringe wanting Islamic-based laws implemented in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Erwin Arnada, 48, who had been editor of the now-defunct magazine, was serving a two-year prison sentence after a protracted legal battle that began in 2006 and saw him imprisoned last October when a lower court's acquittal was overturned.

"This is part of the history of the struggle for freedom of the press," Mr Arnada said as he left Cipinang prison in Jakarta wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with "Journalism is not a crime."

His lawyer Heriyanto Yang said a judicial review panel of the Supreme Court decided to reverse the court's own earlier conviction.

When Playboy Indonesia hit news-stands in 2006, members of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front attacked its editorial offices and filed a criminal complaint against Mr Arnada.

The trial, however, angered free speech activists and Indonesia's Press Council defended the magazine saying it did not contain pornography or violate media laws.

Toned down for the local market, Playboy Indonesia had photos of women in underwear, occasionally with partially exposed breasts. But the pictures were less risque than some appearing in other magazines sold openly on street corners.

© Press Association

Press Association