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Smoking gun.

It seems that ink for poison pens must be cheap and plentiful, because a virtual river of it flowed for Eyal Press's untruthful characterization of our company and its Indonesian mining operations ("Jim Bob's Indonesian Mis-adventure," June issue). You gave him four pages to create his false illusion, and it would take at least as much space to despel it, which you would never allow.

So let us settle for this one point: Press quotes a person using an alias, who quotes another individual anonymously, saying that employees of PT-Freeport Indonesia, our Indonesian mining affiliate, carry AK-47s. Press has made this charge before, quoting different unnamed sources. The truth is that our employees do not have guns; that would violate Indonesian law.

Why is it that none of the hundreds of outsiders who toured our operations in the past year have ever stepped forward to make this charge, other than anonymously to Eyal Press?

Why is it that none of the various investigations of human rights--which all determined that PT-FI employees were not involved in the violations--have ever raised this issue?

Why is it that none of the dozens of legitimate news media who visited our mine in the past year--unlike Press, who has never been there--have ever made this allegation?

Because this charge is a lie. Like much of Press's story, it is fiction, part of a smear campaign being waged by him and a small group of other fringe pseudo-journalists.

We regard our operation to be a model of economic development that minimizes environmental impacts and respects the rights of the local indigenous peoples. We are not perfect, but we are trying. We will continue to work with responsible individuals and groups to improve our operations, and we will not be swayed by individuals like Press, whose sole contribution to the debate is to spew mud and mendacity.

Thomas J. Egan,

Senior Vice President and

Senior Administrative Deputy

to the Office of the Chairman,

Freeport-McMoRan

The author replies:

You would think that Thomas Egan, whose company dumps thousands of tons of untreated mine tailings into the rivers of Irian Jaya on a daily basis, would hesitate before accusing others of engaging in activity whose end result is to create rivers of poison. In any event, Egan moans about not having adequate space to dispel the "false illusion" my article created, thus avoiding almost all substantive engagement with it. Perhaps Freeport could correct any mistaken impressions by taking out some fullpage ads in The Progressive to set the readers straight, as it has already done in The New York Times, The Weekly Standard, The Texas Monthly, and other publications since word about the human-rights and environmental problems at its mine began to spread.

As for Egan's sole substantive point, below is a photograph, kindly provided by my anonymous source, of a group of people at the Carstensz Pyramid, the highest mountain between the Andes and the Himalayas, within walking distance of Freeport's mine. This picture was taken on the morning that my source was abruptly awakened by the sound of guns being fired against the side of a mountain. The man holding the gun and one other person are shown wearing what appear to be standard company jackets. The hard hats also seem to be Freeport standard issue. My source spoke with the gun-toter, who told him he worked as an engineer for Freeport.

Eyal Press
COPYRIGHT 1996 The Progressive, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:includes author's reply to the response; response to 'Jim Bob's Indonesian Misadventure,' June 1996 by Eyal Press
Author:Press, Eyal
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Aug 1, 1996
Words:567
Previous Article:Slimed again.
Next Article:Self-haters.
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