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Fiji condemned for deporting newspaper publisher

Fiji condemned for deporting newspaper publisher

Australian and New Zealand leaders condemned Fiji's coup-installed government yesterday for deporting a newspaper publisher after calling his publication a threat to national security.
Australian citizen Russell Hunter, publisher and managing director of Fijian daily The Sun, said he believes he was expelled Tuesday for running articles exposing tax irregularities involving a senior government minister.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark addressed Hunter's case in a joint press briefing following talks yesterday in the Australian capital Canberra.
"It is unacceptable and it is an extremely disappointing development," Rudd said of the expulsion.
Clark questioned the commitment of Fiji's self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, the military commander who seized power in a December 2006 coup, to hold elections by March next year as he has promised.
"It's inconceivable that you can hold open, fair and free elections if you have media intimidation and great restraints on the freedom of expression," Clark told reporters.
"That's why what happened this week with the deportation of the editor and publisher ... is so deplorable," she added.
Bainimarama said in a statement Tuesday that The Sun's reporting "has been inciteful and destabilizing and therefore a threat to national security and stability."
The Australian and New Zealand leaders, key foreign aid donors for Fiji, did not outline what action, if any, they would take in response to the deportation.
Meanwhile, Hunter said yesterday that Fiji's military rulers' attempt to silence him will be in vain because he will continue to run his newspaper from Sydney, where he arrived Tuesday.
"If I have a computer, telephone and a modem, I can do it from just about anywhere in the world," Hunter said. "It won't make any real difference."


Updated : 2021-06-14 12:02 GMT+08:00