26 Feb 2008

Fiji deports Fiji Sun publisher to Australia

3:15 pm on 26 February 2008

The publisher of the Fiji Sun newspaper, Russell Hunter, has been deported after being detained last night.

Mr Hunter, who is an Australian citizen, has left the country on a flight bound for Sydney.

The newspaper's editor, Leone Cabenatabua, says they suspect the action was taken over articles on alleged tax evasion implicating an interim minister.

Mr Hunter's wife said immigration officials visited their home but were shown that his visa was valid until November next year.

The media community in Fiji is said to be shocked by the deportation of Mr Hunter.

The Managing Director of the commercial radio company, Fiji Communications, William Parkinson, says the action taken is severe, sudden and unexplained:

"There's been tension between previous governments and the media and there's been tension between this government and the media in the past but no government has taken quite such dramatic action as this."

Mr Parkinson says there will be a meeting of the media council in Fiji to formulate some sort of response.

The press and broadcasting in Fiji were severely criticised by the interim Prime Minister at the weekend .

Commodore Frank Bainimarama accused the media of deliberately failing to follow ethical guidelines and providing the nation with misinformation.