- A YouTuber could face criminal charges after sharing a photo of a hand-drawn in-flight menu on his Garuda Indonesia flight that then went viral.
- Rius Vernandes shared the image and later shared a video where he said he wasn’t trying to hurt the airline’s reputation. The airline later said that the menu was meant for one crew member’s own use.
- But Rius later said he had been reported to the police for defamation, and a news agency said police confirmed the airline had sued him. Indonesia’s laws mean those found guilty could face years in jail.
- The airline also sought to ban photos and videos during flights, but appeared to backtrack to The Guardian newspaper by saying the policy was not"finalized" and people could take photos if they did not disturb other passengers.
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Indonesia’s flagship airline, Garuda Indonesia, tried to ban in-flight photos and a YouTuber could face criminal charges after he shared a photo of the airline’s hand-written menu that was then mocked online.
Rius Vernandes, who has 121,000 followers on Instagram and 500,000 subscribers on YouTube and often reviews his flights, shared an image of the menu on his business-class flight on Saturday with the caption "The menu is still being printed sir," The Guardian reported.
The menu, written on a white piece of paper, showed options including beef steak and crème brûlée.
The image then went viral in Indonesia, and Rius made a video about the topic on Sunday, where he promised to share "What really happened, behind Garuda’s business class handwritten menu."
In it, he shared footage of the flight, including the menu, and talked to the camera, claiming that he did not mean to harm Garuda Indonesia’s reputation. The airline told press agency DPA that the menu was made by a cabin crew member to use themselves, and that it was not supposed to be given to passengers.
In an internal memo on Sunday, seen by The Guardian, the airline announced that it was banning crew and passengers from taking photos and videos in-flight.
But Garuda’s corporate secretary, Ikhsan Rosan, said on Tuesday that this policy had "not yet been finalised, and should not have been shared to the public," The Guardian reported.
"People can still take pictures [on board our flights] for their own use," he said, "as long as they don’t disturb the other passengers".
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Rius said that he had been reported to the police for defamation, but that he had "no intention at all to defame anyone."
Police confirmed to DPA that the airline, which is Indonesia’s national airline, had filed a defamation case against him.
Garuda Indonesia could not immediately be reached for comment by Business Insider.
Indonesia’s laws mean someone found guilty of defamation can spend years in prison, and the country also has strict laws that regulate internet activity and include criminal punishment people found guilty of sharing electronic information or documents that defame others.
Those found guilty can be met with a fine of up to one billion rupiah ($71,600) or six years in prison.
Rius asked for his followers’ help, calling on other influencers in particular, and said: "You all have a voice."
He said that the support was needed so that people who give "constructive" reviews won’t be seen as "criminal."
While saying he wasn’t afraid, Rius said that he wanted to find a different way to solve the dispute.
Rius has been met with an outpouring of support on his social media accounts, and some passengers have also told Garuda that they will not fly with the airline if they pursue legal action against him.
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