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Newspaper editor deported

(PINA/IFEX) - The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) has strongly condemned the deportation to Australia of "Fiji Sun" Editor in Chief Russell Hunter, by Fiji's interim government.

PINA President, Joseph Ealedona says the sudden deportation of Mr Hunter without a convincing formal explanation from the interim government is a serious threat to the freedom of expression and information and goes against the commitment of the interim government to uphold media freedom in Fiji.

This commitment was given to PINA Board members during a meeting with interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama in December 2007.

Mr Ealedona says the unilateral action of the interim Fijian government borders on a police state and reflects the dire need for respect for rule of law and the rights of its citizens to information.

"We urge the interim government to have restraint and to understand that they too have the right to respond and place the record straight if there has been any misreporting."

"The media is the voice of the people. It is obliged to report the truth and or report the grievances and concerns of citizens. Those who are offended also have the right to respond.

PINA says the deportation is harsh and tarnishes whatever good deeds the interim government has done. This action tells the world the military regime in place has no respect for good governance and transparency.

"The reasons given for this deportation cannot hide the fact that the media has once again revealed information that questions the integrity of some in authority and therefore this action by the interim government," Mr Ealedona says.

PINA urges the media in Fiji to remain vigilant and to respond professionally without any bias and prejudice. It also urges professional bodies in Fiji to stand united against such oppression.

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