27 Jan 2009

Third publisher sent packing from Fiji

8:56 pm on 27 January 2009

An Australian publisher deported from Fiji denies his newspaper has been trying to antagonise the Fiji military government.

Rex Gardner was told to leave the country on Monday, four days after his paper, the Fiji Times, was fined $100,000 for publishing a letter criticising the court's validation of the 2006 military coup.

The letter described Mr Bainimarama as a criminal, no better than the rebels of 2000.

It is the third time in less than a year that the interim government of Commodore Frank Bainimarama has deported foreign publishers from Fiji.

Arriving back in Sydney on Tuesday, Mr Gardner said he was not given a proper reason for being deported.

The move came just nine months after his predecessor at the paper, Evan Hannah, was ejected from Fiji on the grounds that he was a threat to national security.

Clearly 'no free press' now

A former editor of the Fijian Sun says media organisations will be nervous about what to publish following Mr Gardner's deportation.

Bill Southworth says it's obvious there is no freedom of the press in Fiji any more, and it would be a very brave journalist who went about their job in an open and forthright manner now.