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Fiji diplomatic stand-off escalates as New Zealand TV journalist gets deported

Fiji sanctions row escalates as New Zealand journalist gets deported
New Zealand journalist Barbara Dreaver.

Tensions between New Zealand and Fiji have heightened further after the latter deported ONE News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver and threatened to expel New Zealand's top diplomat there in the developing row over travel sanctions. Dreaver landed in Auckland Tuesday afternoon after being detained at Fiji's Nadi Airport Monday night.

Dreaver had flown in Monday night to cover the escalating diplomatic row between New Zealand and the government, led by self-appointed prime minister Frank Bainimarama, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported. The interim government said Dreaver was added to the blacklist of foreigners banned from entering Fiji after presenting a story this year that was "totally the opposite to what was actually happening on the ground".

The AAP report said: [Link]

Fiji's interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the government had since implemented a policy requiring all foreign media to get approval before entering the country. "Now there is a policy that foreign journalists who come in, they need to seek the concurrence of the permanent secretary of information," Sayed-Khaiyum said. "It is very simple. Everybody knows that. Barbara Dreaver turns up at the airport without having sought that permission, so obviously she has been told to go back."

But Dreaver, one of several journalists, including two Australian publishers, to be removed from the country this year, said the policy was "nonsense" as other New Zealand reporters on her flight had been allowed entry. She said her detention was over a story aired last April which exposed large-scale poverty in a Fijian town which the government took exception to.

"They didn't like it, it's as simple as that, so they weren't going to let me in," Dreaver said. "I'm not the first to be expelled. I certainly won't be the last either."

Australian publisher of the News Limited-owned Fiji Times, Evan Hannah, was deported from Fiji in May after Bainimarama ruled he was a threat to national security. Three months earlier, another Australian publisher, Russell Hunter of the Fiji Sun newspaper, was thrown out of the South Pacific country after the paper carried articles critical of the regime.

Date posted: December 16, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 316