6 Mar 2008

Australia seeks further Fiji explanation of Hunter deportation

4:26 pm on 6 March 2008

The Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, James Batley, has sought an audience with the interim foreign minister, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, on the reasons surrounding the deportation of Australian expatriate and Fiji Sun publisher Russell Hunter.

The Fijilive website says Mr Batley has reportedly restated the Australian government's concerned over the way Mr Hunter was made to leave Fiji.

He said they were also concerned with the implications the incident had on the freedom of the media in the country.

Ratu Epeli has confirmed the meeting has already been arranged for but declined to say when.

It has been speculated that Mr Hunter was deported because of a series of articles run by the Fiji Sun revealing the tax details of interim finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry.

The interim regime has declared Mr Hunter a risk to Fiji's security, with the interim immigration minister refusing to elaborate.