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New Zealand reporter detained at airport, deported

(PINA/IFEX) - ONE News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver was detained at Fiji's Nadi Airport on the night of 15 December 2008 as she flew in to cover the latest developments on the deteriorating diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Fiji.

TVNZ (Television New Zealand) reports Ms Dreaver was detained while going through immigration and taken to a detention centre overnight.

She was put on the first flight back to New Zealand on the morning of 16 December.

She had arrived in Fiji to cover the diplomatic standoff between New Zealand and Fiji, after the Fijian military threatened to expel acting New Zealand High Commissioner, Caroline McDonald.

Fiji's interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has delivered an ultimatum, demanding an exemption from travel sanctions imposed by the New Zealand Government.

No reason has been given as to why Ms Dreaver was detained other than that she was on a watch list which was put in place in July.

"When I arrived I gave my passport to immigration and the lady took quite some time to process it and then she asked me to wait," Ms Dreaver said.

The reporter was then taken to a little office while someone tried to get hold of the director of immigration who said that she was to be taken to a detention centre.

"They have just said that I'm on a watch list and that that watch list was put in place sometime in July," she said.

However, Ms Dreaver said that the Ministry of Information, which put the watch list in place, had given her a pass to film at the barracks during her visit.

"It's not very pleasant but it's just the way it goes here and this is Fiji now I guess. I'm not the first journalist to be sent away from Fiji and I guess I won't be the last."

Ms Dreaver said there was no reason why she can think this has happened and was trying to think back to what stories she covered on Fiji in July.

"Last time I was in Fiji . . . we did a couple of stories, one of which was on Balu Khan and I'm wondering if that has something to do with it."

Mr Khan was recently released after he was charged with attempting to kill Commodore Bainimarama.

Ms Dreaver said it appears there are no other journalists in recent days to whom this has happened. The crew travelling with Ms Dreaver passed through immigration without problem.

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