29 Dec 2010

PNG's Baure says he never crossed Torres Strait

5:51 pm on 29 December 2010

The detained leader of a Papua New Guinea group campaigning for Australian citizenship, Jonathan Baure, says he never crossed into Australian territory.

Mr Baure was detained on fraud charges in Daru and spoke to the newspaper, the National, from his cell in Port Moresby.

His group, Papua Australia Plaintiff United Affiliates, planned to travel to Australia as it wants Canberra to recognise that Papuans were not given a choice to remain Australians when PNG became independent in 1975.

He says only one of the 16 dinghies trying to cross Torres Strait made it to the Australian mainland, which meant that out of 122, only eight people reached Cape York.

Australia rejected their claim, confiscated their vessels and returned them all to Daru.

The newspaper says several members of the Papuan group are now stranded in Daru because all their money had been confiscated by the transnational crime unit.