3 May 2008

Fiji Times publisher's wife not surprised at regime move

10:06 am on 3 May 2008

The wife of Fiji Times publisher Evan Hannah says she was not surprised when immigrations officials turned up on their doorstep for her husband.

He was removed from his home Thursday night by officers acting on a deportation order reportedly signed by interim Defense Minister and the ministry's permanent secretary.

Evan Hannah is now on his way to Sydney via Korea despite a High court order to keep him in the country.

Mr Hannah's wife, who is a Fiji citizen, Dr Katarina Tuin Amuana says they were not shocked when the officials turned up.

"Because Russell Hunter who was the publisher for the Fiji Sun was also deported in similar circumstances so after that happened my husband and I were aware the same thing could happen to him."

Dr Tuin Amuana says her husband is due to arrive in Sydney early today.

Yesterday, Fiji's Solicitor general asked the High Court in Suva for more to time to gather information over the deportation of the Fiji Times publisher, Evan Hannah.

Police and immigration officials were then issued a High Court order to produce Mr Hannah in court yesterday afternoon.

However he his deportation still went ahead.

Our correspondent Matelita Ragogo says the case has now been adjourned to next week. (weds)

The court was expecting written reasons or submissions by the 7 or 8 respondents about the deportation, the reasons behind it, now of the respondents appeared except the solicitor general, Christopher Pryde, he has asked for more time basically he would like to ascertain if the respondents were properly served and whether they had had enough time to act on it or to respond to it.

Matelita Ragogo.

The interim government's decision received swift criticism.

The Fiji Law Society has deplored the behaviour of the interim government which for a second time has deported the publisher of yet another daily newspaper.

The Law Society president, Isireli Fa, says these matters constitute a turning point in the question of whether the rule of law is operating in Fiji.

He says it appears that the court order had been served on the appropriate authorities in good time for them to comply with it.

Meanwhile, the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders has condemned Fiji for deporting the publisher of the country's leading daily newspaper.

The Paris-based group said the expulsion of Evan Hannah of the Fiji Times was unacceptable.

Ben Lowings reports from London:

Reporters Without Borders said Mr Hannah's arrest had violated all the undertakings which it said the military government had given as regards respect for civil liberties and press freedom. The group noted that Mr Hannah's expulsion comes just two months after the expulsion of the Fiji Sun publisher Russell Hunter. It said it seemed that the summary removal of government critics was becoming the norm in Fiji. Reporters Without Borders said the Fiji government must stop what it called its schizophrenic behaviour.

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement says it is appalled by the second deportation of a respected journalist from Fiji.

It says it is disappointed that Fiji's interim regime continues to blatantly violate human rights and the rule of law.

But Fiji's Minister of Defence, National Security & Immigration, says the removal of Evan Hannah was done according to the law.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau says Mr Hannah was served with a Removal Order and Detention Warrant by immigration officers on Thursday evening at his home.

Ratu Epeli says based on credible evidence and advice Mr. Hannah's actions were breaching the national security of Fiji.

He says Mr. Hannah had been cautioned of the implications of his actions, but chose to ignore it.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau says the Court Order issued by the High Court, had not been officially received by the Director of Immigration before Mr. Hannah was removed from Fiji

He says a Court Order needs to be sighted by the Director of Immigration before officials can act on it.

When Fiji Sun publisher Russel Hunter was deported in February, the same explanation was given.