8 Aug 2003

Nauru cancels visa of Australian priest

6:20 am on 8 August 2003

A Catholic priest opposed to Australia's refugee policy in the Pacific has had his visa to Nauru cancelled.

Frank Brennan claims the Australian government pressured Nauru to cancel the visa to ensure he was unable to speak with asylum seekers being held in detention in the country.

He was due to arrive in Nauru yesterday after gaining a visa on Monday but was told a day later that the visa had been cancelled by Nauru's acting chief secretary.

Father Brennan has told the news agency AAP that such action by government is a gross interference with freedom of religion.

And he says he is left with the perception that the rule of law and openness of government is subsidiary to other financial and political considerations in the Pacific and at the instigation and insistence of the Australian government.