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Arrest, deportation of "Fiji Times" publisher aims to silence voices critical of interim government, says PINA

(PINA/IFEX) - The following is a PINA statement:

PINA STATEMENT ON THE DEPORTATION OF FIJI TIMES PUBLISHER, EVAN HANNAH

The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) deplores the action of the interim Fiji government to deport "Fiji Times" publisher Evan Hannah on the eve of World Press Freedom Day.

PINA president Joseph Ealedona said, "The deportation is a blatant attack on the freedom of the media in Fiji."

Hannah was taken from his home in Suva last night by immigration officials and put on a Korean Air flight on 2 May 2008, despite a high court order for him to be presented in court in the afternoon of the same day.

The publisher was told that he had breached the condition of his work permit and taken from his home in front of his one-year-old son and Fijian wife, Dr. Katarina Tuinamuana.

"The arrest and deportation is clearly calculated to intimidate and silence voices critical of the interim government. This strikes at the heart of democracy and a free media," said Ealedona.

PINA calls on Fiji's Interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to stick to his promise of upholding media freedom.

Commodore Bainimarama must allow journalists and media outlets to do their work without fear or favour.

The move by the Fiji interim government comes in the wake of the deportation in February of another Australian and publisher of the "Fiji Sun" - Russell Hunter.

The blatant disregard for the rule of law by the Fiji interim government sends a very dangerous signal to its citizens and the international community.

PINA believes Commodore Bainimarama has the power to turn things around from the current downward spiral for the betterment of all Fiji citizens.

For further information on the Hunter case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91183

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