Military leader: Fiji supports press freedom - "if responsible"
Fiji's military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama says his government has an "unwavering commitment" to press freedom but will not allow two deported newspaper publishers back into the country, it was reported Tuesday, dpa reported.
The Fiji Times, whose Australian publisher Evan Hannah was arrested last week and deported in defiance of a judge's order, said that Bainimarama had told it Hannah and Fiji Sun publisher Russell Hunter, who was banished in February, would not be allowed to return.
After Bainimarama called newspaper editors and publishers to a meeting Monday in the capital Suva, he issued a statement, saying, "I would like to restate the interim government's unwavering commitment of its constitutional obligation of freedom of the press and other media as enshrined in Section 30 of our constitution."
He said that any freedom came with responsibility, and "partisan agenda, cultural insensitivity and deliberate distortions in media reporting can do untold damage to the fabric of a nation and indeed have unfortunate repercussions," the Times reported.
Bainimarama, head of Fiji's military forces, who seized power in a bloodless coup in December 2006, said, "We request the media to cooperate and assist us in rebuilding and moving the nation forward."