26 Mar 2007

Editor of newspaper in Tonga due in court today

6:17 am on 26 March 2007

The editor of a Tonga newspaper charged with sedition and defamation is due appear in court this morning.

Police arrested Tavake Fusimalohi, editor of Kele'a newspaper last Thursday, but later released him on bail due to ill health.

He was brought back to the police station on Friday for further interrogation.

Tavake Fusimalohi says Kele'a is not afraid of criticising the government and the charges brought against him were not a surprise .

"Of course government is in control of the main stream media, television, radio and of course their own state-owned newspaper. And all other privately owned newspapers in Tonga are sort of pro-government for fear of what is happening to me might happen to them also."

Earlier this year, the Kele'a newspaper was forced to close after the defence force said it had been operating illegally and without a proper licence.

Police say the sedition charge is in relation to articles that were printed in the Kele'a about the Royal family, and the defamation charge was brought in by Joe Ramanlal Jr relating to an article that was published by the Kele'a about him.