2 May 2014

PNG journalist convicted of contempt over Manus story

3:59 pm on 2 May 2014

A journalist found guilty of contempt of court in Papua New Guinea for revealing identities of six people at Australia's asylum seeker detention centre in Manus says he never intended to defy the court.

Todagia Kelola and the publisher of the Post Courier newspaper were found guilty over a March article about the centre where some reporters had accompanied the National Court's human rights inquiry inspection team.

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Photo: RNZI

Its leader, Justice David Cannings, had ordered that all images be frosted or published in a way that didn't reveal identities of people at the centre.

Mr Kelola confirms he and the other reporters were given the order orally.

"The National Court cited myself and... The National reporter also was cited for contempt. But the National newspaper pleaded guilty and they were convicted of contempt of court. Whereas the Post Courier pleaded not guilty and we went for a trial. I did not intend to defy or disobey the orders of the court at that time."

Todagia Kelola says the failure to frost the image of the asylum seekers was an oversight.

Submission on penalty for the conviction will be made at the end of the month; the Post Courier's lawyers are considering their legal options.

A journalist for The National Charles Moi, and the newspaper's publisher Pacific Star Ltd, are to be told their penalties today.