20 Feb 2004

International journalists group seeks release of Tongan pro-democracy activist

10:30 am on 20 February 2004

The international journalists organisation "Reporters without Borders" has called for the release of a New Zealand resident charged with distributing a foreign newspaper without a licence.

Alani Taione was arrested some hours after his arrival in Tonga for displaying and distributing copies of the New Zealand-based Taimi O Tonga newspaper.

The Tonga government banned the Taimi earlier this year, accusing it of having a political agenda and unacceptable journalistic standards.

The paper has been refused a license to distribute in the kingdom following the passing of tough media restrictions late last year.

Taione, a pro-democracy activist, was released on bail without plea and will appear again in court next week..