An official at Bali Airport has been accused of extorting a tourist who took a photo on his phone of the queue at customs.
The tourist from Taiwan had arrived in Bali for a holiday and allegedly took out his phone to capture the long wait to share with the driver picking his group up.
Taking photos in restricted areas of Indonesian airports is prohibited.
The man shared his experience on an online forum, which was then picked up by Taiwanese and Indonesian media.
He claimed a customs officer approached him and took him to a small, dark room for interrogation at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar.
He was allegedly told he would be sent back to his home country before the official said the other option was a $4000 fine.
The tourist said he pretended he didn’t have the money and haggled the cost down to $270. He alleged the officer instructed him not to tell anyone.
According to CNN Indonesia, the man told the television network CTS Taiwan: “It feels like exploiting tourists.”
In a statement on Thursday, the Indonesian Ministry of Finance’s Directorate General of Customs and Excise said it did not believe the alleged extortion took place in the customs area of the airport.
Head of the Sub-Directorate of Public Relations and Customs Counselling, Hatta Wardhana, said taking photos in the limited area of the airport regulated by law is not part of the authority of customs, and repatriation is not the authority of customs either.
“However, we will still try to coordinate with various parties so that we can then find out the real problem and communicate with those concerned,” he said.
“We can also convey that currently, we are in the process of coordinating with the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office (IETO) in Taipei.”
In response to a tweet claiming the alleged extortion was done by immigration officers, not customs officers, the official Twitter account of the Immigration Office said it was investigating.
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