2 May 2008

Lawyers for detained newspaper publisher secure court order for his appearance

10:04 am on 2 May 2008

"Lawyers for the Fiji Times have secured a High Court order that police and immigration officials who removed its publisher Evan Hannah from his home Thursday night produce him in court this afternoon at 3o'clock."

The High Court order by Justice Filimoni Jitoko demands the officials justify Hannah's detention by police.

The officers had acted on a deportation order reportedly signed by interim Defense Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau and the ministry's permanent secretary Malakai Tadulala.

Police spokesperson Ema Mua attributed Hannah's deportation to "unstable comments" adding that he was part of a "bigger group that was trying to cause confusion."

The first flight to Australia today is at 9am to Sydney.

Mr Hannah's wife and Fiji citizen Dr Katarina Tuin Amuana told the newspaper she felt force would have been applied if there had been any resistance to the officers who arrested her husband from their home.

Reactions have been swift in condemning the action, most commentators agreeing that the regime's action was contradictory to its leaders' utterances of upholding media freedom and strengthening its relationship with the media.

The Media Council intends to meet today to discuss the matter.