17 Apr 2007

Tongan editor says media is not persecuted

3:27 pm on 17 April 2007

The editor of the Taimi o Tonga newspaper denies that news media in Tonga are being persecuted because of their political stance.

Kalafi Moala is objecting to allegations of media persecution by the Tonga government in the Suva-based Islands Business magazine from its editor Laisa Taga.

In a recent editorial, Ms Taga wrote about a government-driven crackdown on pro-democracy media in Tonga since last November's riots in Nuku'alofa.

Three leading pro-democracy journalists have been arrested and charged with sedition since the riots.

But Mr Moala says that Tonga's media continues to operate freely in the aftermath of the riots, and that the notion of a crackdown is the type of misinformation that is becoming commonplace.

"I run a television programme here weekly and I approached TV Tonga here to ask if they had a list of people that they do not want to be interviewed on the programme and they said not at all. So I have made contact with [pro-democracy leader] Akilisi Pohiva to schedule him to be interviewed on Television Tonga and this is so against a lot of the allegations that I've heard."

Kalafi Moala