Rudd blasts Fiji as NZ reporter detained

AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has slammed the Fiji interim government for its treatment of media and restrictions of free speech, ABC reported. He criticism comes as Fiji detains a New Zealand journalist, Barbara Dreaver, of TVNZ.

Mr Rudd said the Frank Bainimarama-led military rule has “belted around the free media” after Pacific ministers met in Suva to discuss the future of the country’s democracy.

Ms Dreaver, the TV station’s Pacific correspondent, was detained on Monday night after flying in to cover increasing diplomatic tension between Fiji and New Zealand, according to a report from NZPA. The station’s head of news, Anthony Flannery, said he expected to hear soon about a date for her release and possible deportation.

This is not the only issue that Fijian Government has with the media currently. It is currently taking legal action against two Fijian newspapers, the Times and the Daily Post, over a contemptuous letter they both published relating to the court decision that found the military takeover to be legal.

The government also clashed with the Times on the country’s budget announcement, barring the paper from covering the event after it published leaked contents of the budget the week before.

“This government takes democracy in the Pacific island countries seriously. It is not optional,” Mr Rudd said.

“It is what we do in our part of the world, and for there to be any exception, particularly the way in which this bunch have belted around the free media for example in Fiji, and have traduced the democratic processes, we’re not about to stand idly by while this happens.

“You will see further action from Pacific island forum countries on this matter in the period ahead. We’ve taken a hard diplomatic line on this. Further actions as necessary will be taken.”

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