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Public radio journalist fired for refusing to disclose sources for report on corruption

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced its support for Taberannang Korauaba, who was wrongfully dismissed from Radio Kiribati Broadcasting, a radio offshoot of the public Broadcasting and Publications Authority, after exposing a case of corruption involving a senior official.

"It is highly regrettable that the management of a public news media should fire a young journalist like this, especially one highly motivated to inform his country's inhabitants," Reporters Without Borders said. "This case shows the limits of press freedom in Kiribati. We call on the Broadcasting and Publications Authority to reinstate Korauaba at once."

On 6 December 2005, Radio Kiribati Broadcasting executives gave Korauaba 24 hours to reveal his sources for a report about a case of corruption involving Kiribati's auditor-general. He refused, and was fired the followed day. Korauaba contested his dismissal in writing. After several weeks of silence, the head of the radio station told him his petition had been passed on to the public prosecutor.

Korauaba decided in January to sue the government for wrongful dismissal.

Korauaba was previously sanctioned by the station's management in October 2004 for refusing to comply with an order from a minister. And in August 2002, he was suspended for five days over a report about an air transport company.

A graduate of the University of the South Pacific's journalism programme, Korauaba told Reporters Without Borders he expected to be back at his job soon. The press freedom situation in Kiribati is "far from perfect," he said.

Kiribati is a Micronesian country with a population of 100,000.

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