Wednesday, 24 December 2008 4:57 AM

Fiji Minister Claims Phones Tapped by Australia and NZ

Fiji's interim Communications Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has made claims that Australian and New Zealand authorities are tapping the phone lines in Fiji.

Earlier in the week, according to Fiji times Online, Mr. Sayed-Khaiyum had made statements regarding the travel bans imposed on Fiji by the two countries, saying that the interim Government does not mind travel bans "as long as it is not against innocent victims of this country like business people that want to be appointed to statutory bodies."

'Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said people were queuing up outside offices but could not take on the jobs because of the bans' and also "there are others victimised because they have a relative in the military or the interim Government", adding that it is unjust to punish someone for the crime of a relative.
(Under the travel bans, relatives of those in the Fiji military and interim government are also banned from traveling to Australia and New Zealand)

Mr. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum went on to say that 'their telephones were tapped and that was how Australia and New Zealand knew the personnel details of travellers'.

'He said this was true because when interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama had a bi-lateral meeting with Steven Smith and put this to him there was no denial'.
Besides stating that tapping phones in Fiji is illegal, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum 'said these Governments encouraged their local staff to become spies for them. These local staff should be ashamed of themselves for betraying and spying on their fellow country men and women, he said'.

According to Fiji Times Online, Australia's High Commissioner, James Batley, who is on holiday, declined to comment on the allegations saying that he 'may respond later after reading the allegations'.