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Police search "Fiji Times" newspaper and Fiji TV

(PINA/IFEX) - Fiji's media freedom is under threat again after police searched two media organisations for airing politically-sensitive stories.

"Fiji Times" newspaper and Fiji TV were both served with search warrants by police for copies and sources of two letters that were published by them.

Assistant police spokesman Atunaisa Sokomuri said on 10 March 2009 that officers from the Criminal Investigation Department had served the search warrant to Fiji Television Limited. Sokomuri did not say why the officers were at Fiji TV but said they spoke with some senior staff in the office.

However, Fiji TV said that the search warrant was served for the copy of a letter which was aired on Fiji One national news on 9 March.

The letter was from Sitiveni Halapua, director of the Pacific Islands Development Programme, and Robin Nair, director of the Centre for International and Regional Affairs at the University of Fiji, asking interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama for a meeting.

Another search warrant was served to "Fiji Times" for a copy of the letter written by the United Nations and the Commonwealth. The letter was a joint statement from the UN and the Commonwealth on their agreement to support the president's political dialogue forum.

"Fiji Times" editor-in-chief Netani Rika was taken to the central police station and questioned about the issue on 10 March.

His company vehicle was also smashed by vandals.

"I do have my suspects and I have conveyed it to police," Mr Rika told Fijilive.

"I think I know why (the incident occurred). Until I can be certain, I will not speculate," he said.

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