Saturday, 3 May 2008 3:12 AM

Deported Publisher Flown to Korea

The publisher of Fiji Times who was deported by Fiji's interim government was flown to Korea yesterday morning.

According to Fiji Times Online, Evan Hannah was put on a Korean Air flight yesterday morning after Air Pacific refused to let Mr. Hannah board due to an order from Fiji's High Court stopping Mr. Hannah's deportation.

'Fiji Times Online has been told that a military officer ordered Korean Airlines boarding officers to put Mr Hannah on the flight at 9.25am'.

Meanwhile, groups and individuals from around the country and region have expressed their concerns with the latest deportation by the military-led interim government and its blatant disregard for the rule of law by going ahead with the deportation despite the court order.

According to the Fiji Times, former ruling political party, Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) Party 'says the deportation of The Fiji Times publisher Evan Hannah was another assault on media freedom' and the party director, Peceli Kinivuwai, said that 'the expulsion of Russel Hunter and Mr Hannah are a grim reminder that media freedom is restricted in Fiji and the interim regime continues to violate human rights'.
Another political party, the National Federation Party (NFP), labeled the action as 'a shameful, despicable and cowardly act' and that 'it is also another testimony of the fact that Fiji is now being controlled by dictators who are prepared to blatantly disregard the rule of law and resort to the law of the jungle and thuggery to satisfy their greed for power'.
NFP's Pramod Rae added that 'the manner in which police and immigration authorities defied a High Court Order which prevented them from deporting Mr Hannah speaks volumes about the devious intentions of those who are now illegally roaming in the corridors of power'.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF) executive director, Reverend Akuila Yabaki, said that the interim government was 'making a mockery of (Fiji's) legal justice system' and called on the interim Government to 'stop violating rights of people in such a manner' as 'everyone has a right to a fair trial'.

The Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) president, Joseph Ealedona, said that 'the deportation is a blatant attack on the freedom of the media in Fiji'.

The U.S and Australia have also expressed their disappointment and concern. Mr. Hannah is an Australian citizen.

According to Fiji Times Online, 'Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith issued a statement saying he was very disturbed by reports of Mr Hannah's removal, detention and possible deportation to Australia' and that 'this was yet another reprehensible act in a disturbing pattern of behaviour since the coup of December 2006 which has resulted in the severe erosion of fundamental human rights and the rule of law in Fiji'.

In a statement, the U.S government 'said the US continues to condemn the military coup and the interim Governments actions to suppress the freedom of speech of those in the media'.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province