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Deported Fiji publisher refuses to remain silent

world Updated: Feb 27, 2008 08:39 IST

An Australian publisher deported by Fiji's military government said on Wednesday that attempts to silence his newspaper would be in vain.

Fiji Sun publisher Russell Hunter, 59, said he would continue to run the paper from Sydney, the national AAP news agency reported.

"I want to be back in Fiji as soon as possible, but for the time being I am working from Sydney," Hunter said.
"If I have a computer, telephone and a modem I can do it from just about anywhere in the world. It won't make any real difference."

Hunter believes it was a series of Fiji Sun articles alleging that Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry was involved in tax evasion that sparked his deportation.

Fiji's military chief and self-appointed Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the Australian, who has lived in the Pacific island nation for 11 years, had breached the conditions of his work visa.

"Hunter was conducting himself in a manner prejudicial to the peace, defence, public safety, public order, security and stability of the sovereign state of the Fiji Islands," a statement from Bainimarama's office said.

Bainimarama, who staged a bloodless coup in December 2006, was strongly condemned by the governments of Australia and New Zealand for his action against the newspaperman.

Hunter said if his deportation was an attempt to silence his newspaper, it would be in vain.
"It is going to make no difference. The editor and the team will carry on as they have been doing. They don't need me to do it.

"As publisher my main role was the business side of things," he said, adding: "I haven't been involved in the editorial side so much for the past 6-8 months."

Hunter stood by his newspaper's articles on alleged tax evasion and said the editorial team should continue to follow the story, AAP reported.

"There is a very, very good editorial team, and they can do that quite easily without me," he said.

Hunter's partner, Martha Waradin, told AFP from her Suva home that immigration officials had given her three weeks to leave Fiji with their 13-year-old daughter, Rhianna.