SERANG, Indonesia—The family of Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian woman arrested for her alleged role in the killing of Kim Jong Nam, said she had told them she had been shooting prank-style videos with a Japanese producer, including one in Jakarta in January.
“She said they would do things like put chili sauce on someone’s hand, or just touch someone’s cheeks while riding an escalator,” said Mala, Ms. Aisyah’s sister-in-law. Mala, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, said Ms. Aisyah believed she was being film by hidden cameras in pranks carried out in Malaysia and Indonesia.
A month ago, Ms. Aisyah told her family she traveled to Jakarta for such a video shooting, said Mala.
“I asked her if I could see it, but she said she never even saw it herself,” Mala said. Ms. Aisyah, according to Mala, said that she had never seen any of the several videos she said she’d participated in.
Family members at Ms. Aisyah’s childhood home—a yellow, well-kept dwelling in this small town a few hours from Jakarta—told The Wall Street Journal Saturday that Ms. Aisyah had occasionally mentioned the video shootings, but was short on details about both them and her regular visits to Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.
Ms. Aisyah was arrested earlier this week in Kuala Lumpur in connection with the killing of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport. Indonesian officials have said she was likely set up by people plotting against Mr. Kim. Malaysian police have also arrested a Malaysian man, a North Korean man and a woman carrying a Vietnamese passport, and say they are pursuing more suspects in the case.
Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday it had enlisted the service of private lawyers for Ms. Aisyah, and said the lawyers won’t currently directly comment on the case. Ms. Aisyah hasn’t been charged with a crime, but rather taken into custody and remanded for one week. She could not be reached for comment.
Ms. Aisyah, 25 years old, grew up in this area of far western Java, leaving school after completing sixth grade. Around the age of 16, she began working for a clothing production business in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, then married the son of her employer and moved with him to Malaysia. They had one child, and divorced in 2012.
Her family believes she started working in a store selling undergarments in Batam, an Indonesian island near Singapore, and occasionally traveled to Malaysia for what she said was infrequent work shooting videos. “I don’t know much about it,” her mother, Benah, said. “Does it mean she’s doing something like what actresses do?”
Her father, a spice seller, said his daughter sends the family money “when she has some,” usually 500,000 Indonesian rupiah (about $37) to 600,000 rupiah at a time.
Last Sunday night, around 12 hours before the assault of Kim Jong Nam, Ms. Aisyah called her mother from Malaysia and mentioned she wasn’t feeling well, but otherwise seemed normal, her mother said.
On Tuesday, she called again to say she was feeling better. “There was no fear in her voice, no sense that she’d done anything wrong,” Benah said, adding that Ms. Aisyah didn’t mention the activities on Monday. Ms. Aisyah had planned to return home later this week to attend a wedding, family members said.
Police said this week that the Malaysian man they arrested is Ms. Aisyah’s boyfriend. Family members said Ms. Aisyah never mentioned having a boyfriend. “She said she didn’t want to remarry soon, or be in a relationship,” Mala said.
Kim Jong Nam was killed in a public and well-lighted departures hall at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport as he was set to board an AirAsia flight to Macau, where he lived. Authorities have said he was approached by two women who attacked him with a wet cloth or an aerosol spray. He died en route to the hospital, authorities said. Malaysian authorities haven’t yet released autopsy results.
Ms. Aisyah’s family said Saturday that they were visited Friday night by Indonesian government officials, who assured them they would help Ms. Asiyah.
Indonesian National Police Chief Tito Karnavian, citing information from Interpol and Malaysian police, told reporters Friday that Ms. Aisyah “did not realize it was an assassination attempt,” but instead had been under the impression she was shooting video for a “Just for Laughs”-style prank show. “Just for Laughs is a hidden-camera show popular around the world.
He said she claimed to have participated in such pranks at least three to four times before the incident involving Kim Jong Nam.
“Chances are she was used,” Mr. Karnavian said.
“I hope she’ll be released soon,” Ms. Aisyah’s father told The Journal Saturday. “She did not kill anyone.”
WSJFamily of Suspect in Kim Jong Nam Killing Says She Shot Prank Videos