Updated at 6.40 p.m. on Sunday to include comment by an Indonesian Military spokesman and a statement posted on the US Embassy website.
Indonesia has asked the United States government for clarification after Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, the head of the military, was prevented from boarding a US-bound flight on Saturday afternoon (21/10).
Gatot was about to depart on an Emirates flight from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport when an airline representative informed him that he had been barred from entering the United States, Indonesian Military (TNI) spokesman Maj. Gen. Wuryanto told journalists during a press conference in Jakarta on Sunday.
“A moment before departure, there was a communication from the airline that US Customs and Border Protection would not allow the TNI chief and his wife to enter US territory,” Wuryanto said.
He said Gatot informed President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Chief Security Minister Wiranto about the incident. He also sent a letter to Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who invited Gatot to attend a conference on extremist organizations in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 23-24.
“The TNI is still waiting for an explanation regarding this incident, considering that the travel to the United States was based on an invitation from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the good relation between the two countries,” the spokesman said.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi spoke with Ambassador Joseph R. Donovan on Sunday to request a quick response from the US government, ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said.
“The Indonesian Embassy in Washington has sent a diplomatic note to the US Department of State requesting clarification of yesterday’s incident,” Arrmanatha said a written message on Sunday.
The Indonesian government also summoned US Ambassador Joseph R. Donovan to provide reasons for the decision. He will be represented by his deputy at the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta on Monday, Arrmanatha added.
In a statement on its official website, the US Embassy said it was in touch with Gatot’s staff about the matter throughout the weekend, working to facilitate his travel and that Ambassador Donovan had apologized to Foreign Minister Retno for any inconvenience to the general.
“The US Embassy was, and remains, prepared to facilitate the general’s travel to the United States. We remain committed to our strategic partnership with Indonesia as a way to deliver security and prosperity to both our nations and peoples,” the statement says.