Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific editor | May 12, 2009
A JOURNALIST in Fiji has been held for two days at Suva police station for posting an online question-and-answer exchange with the Australian High Commission about Canberra’s position on the country’s military-installed Government.
Dionisia Turagabeci was released yesterday after being warned never again to infringe new regulations that require all stories be vetted by the the Ministry of Information before they are published.
Fiji’s media has been operating under strict censorship since last month, when the constitution was abrogated and the Government, in power since a 2006 military coup, put back the date of democratic elections to at least 2014.
Shelvin Chand, Turagabeci’s colleague on fijilive, the country’s most popular website, was also detained for two days for writing a report on the release from prison of soldiers and police jailed for killing three civilians in 2007. However, authorities say the security personnel remain locked up.
Turagabeci said yesterday, she had been advised not to speak to journalists about her detention, in case that caused her further trouble from the authorities. She is due to return to work today. Her story on Australia’s official view of the Fiji Government was removed after just 20 minutes on fijilive’s website. Chand’s story was also swiftly removed.
The site is owned by Fiji entrepreneur Yashwant Gaunder, who gained substantial income from owning the first company in the country to sell music downloads. Fijilive earlier came to prominence when it provided information during the coup staged in 2000 by George Speight, who remains in jail after holding the then cabinet captive in parliament house.