1 Apr 2017

Fiji Times office searched by police in relation to sedition case

2:19 pm on 1 April 2017
The Fiji Times headquarters on Victoria Parade, Suva

The Fiji Times headquarters on Victoria Parade, Suva Photo: RNZI/Sally Round

The main office of one of Fiji's main newspapers, the Fiji Times, was searched by police this week in connection with an ongoing sedition case.

The newspaper and three of its senior staff have been charged with sedition relating to an article published in the Times's iTaukei newspaper, Nai Lalakai, in April last year.

The staff, including publisher Hank Arts, editor-in-chief Fred Wesley, and Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, were earlier charged with inciting communal antagonism, but that was changed last month.

Fred Wesley, Editor of the Fiji Times

The Fiji Times editor-in-chief, Fred Wesley, is one of those facing sedition charges. Photo: RNZI / Sally Round

RNZ International understands that officers from the police major crime unit arrived at the newspaper's Suva headquarters on Thursday with a warrant seeking the employment contracts of Mr Arts, Mr Wesley and Mr Ravula.

Sources say the meeting was cordial, and the newspaper's main newsroom was not searched.

However, the pursuit of the charges against the Fiji Times, which has a strong history of independence against government aggression, has been condemned by human rights groups this past week.

This week, Amnesty International called for the charges to be dropped, saying they were politically motivated and showed there was still suppression of freedom of expression in Fiji.

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