27 Jan 2009

Fiji Times editor in chief saddened over deportation of Rex Gardner

12:37 pm on 27 January 2009

The Fiji Times editor in chief, Netani Rika, says that it's very sad that the Australian publisher of the Fiji Times Rex Gardner has been deported out of the country.

Mr Rika says Mr Gardner was told yesterday that he was being removed from Fiji, under section 13 of the Immigration Act.

"It's sad that its come to this. I think its obvious to observers here and overseas that this is a definite attempt by this interim administration to stifle any negative publicity about its policies and its actions."

Netani Rika says the deportation follows last Thursday's High Court ruling on the Fiji Times' publication of a contemptuous letter criticising the court's validation of the 2006 coup.

Rex Gardner is the latest to be deported from Fiji, after his predecessor Evan Hannah was also ordered out of the Pacific nation in May last year, amid claims he was a security threat.

Another Australian publisher, Russell Hunter of the Fiji Sun newspaper was also deported following the publication of a series of controversial articles.

The move by Fiji has drawn criticism from New Zealand's prime minister, John Key.

Well I think this is unhelpful, I mean this is the third person, that Frank Bainimarama has either sacked or expelled in the last 24 hours, it's a provocative thing to do and I think it's deeply unhelpful.

New Zealand's prime minister, John Key.