Gus Dur’s accuser alleges harassment

Aryanti Sitepu, who claims to have had a liaison with the President, says she and her family have received threatening phone calls from people.

The woman who claims to have had a liaison with President Abdurrahman Wahid, 38-year-old housewife Aryanti Sitepu, now says she has become the victim of a terror-and-harassment campaign.

Her lawyer, Mr Ahmad Yani, did not give specific details of the threat but said it started after she told the Gatra and Panji weekly magazines that she had an affair with the Islamic cleric between 1995 and 1997 – claims which the Indonesian leader and palace officials have dismissed.

“Our client and her family have received threats either by telephone or by people who came directly to her house,” Mr Ahmad told local reporters, and added that Ms Aryanti also received several telephone calls from people claiming to be from the police, asking her to go down to the police headquarters for questioning.

“We want clarification from the police because we have not received an official letter about the summons,” he stressed. Meanwhile, the President has found himself with some breathing space when Parliament Speaker Akbar Tandjung – who has often taken a hard line against Mr Abdurrahman’s year-old government – on Monday said the allegations were a “private matter”.

He also rejected a proposal that Parliament summon Ms Aryanti to explain her allegations.

“It is a personal matter,” The Jakarta Post yesterday quoted him as having said.

“Moreover, the matter happened a long time ago. Let the matter be settled by Gus Dur himself and the woman.”

Diplomatic sources here speculated that as the charges could taint Mr Abdurrahman’s Islamic credentials, it was possible that some members of the Nadhlatul Ulama organisation, which he once used to chair, could be behind the alleged “terror campaign”.

Ms Aryanti’s accusations about harassment come in the wake of last week’s announcement by the police that she would be called up for questioning on the matter – including over a widely-circulated photograph of her together with Mr Abdurrahman.

Ms Aryanti, who has been married three times, has put up a brave face in public and told reporters that she was not afraid of the consequences of her action.

“When Gus Dur became President, he said that society must be given the truth, not lies,” she said in an interview with the Forum magazine in its latest issue.

But supporters of the 60-year-old Mr Abdurrahman suspect that she is being put up to the task of fabricating the story, and that she is receiving payment for doing so.

Ms Aryanti has denied such claims – and said instead that she had received up to 100 million rupiah (S$22,000) in three instalments from Mr Abdurrahman to help her start up her catering business.

A key aspect of the allegations is the photograph of Mr Abdurrahman and Ms Aryanti together.

There has been no official comment on its authenticity.

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