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Canadian pulp and paper engineer jailed in Indonesia


November 15, 2011
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Rick van Lee, an engineer who worked in the Canadian pulp and paper industry during the ’80s, has been accused by his employer of stealing electronic data and jailed in Indonesia. Friends of van Lee are working to achieve his freedom, and the…

Rick van Lee, an engineer who worked in the Canadian pulp and paper industry during the ’80s, has been accused by his employer of stealing electronic data and jailed in Indonesia. Friends of van Lee are working to achieve his freedom, and the Canadian consulate is aware of the case, but if convicted, van Lee could face eight years in jail.

Van Lee had been working for Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) for the past six years. This past February, he was offered US$1 million to sign a new contract with APRIL, according to a story published in the Vancouver Sun on Nov. 4.

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Van Lee’s lawyer told the Sun that his client refused the offer and was planning to relocate to Vancouver to work for Asia Pulp & Paper.

The Vancouver Sun reports that van Lee was charged based on a law that “prohibits stealing or altering electronic documents belonging to others.”

The explanation provided on the “Free Rick van Lee” web site set up by friends of van Lee says he is accused of using private data storage media for safekeeping company data, and that he had permission from the COO of APRIL to do so.

Van Lee and his wife were placed under house arrest in May 2011. Van Lee was transferred to the custody of police in July, and has been detained since September on Sumatra, Indonesia.

Van Lee’s wife, Nieves Navarro, says the engineer has experienced a stroke since being in custody, has lost about 40 lbs., and is depressed.

During his 37-year career, van Lee has worked for global consulting engineering companies such as Amec, Ausenco, KSH Solutions, and Poyry, as well as equipment suppliers and pulp and paper producers.

More details are available at freerickvanlee.com.


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