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Three New Zealand journalists detained at Totogo police station

April 4, 2019 8:30 am

Three Newsroom journalists from New Zealand were taken in for questioning by police in Suva last night for alleged criminal trespass.

Newsroom co-editor Mark Jennings, investigations editor Melanie Reid and cameraman Hayden Aull are in cells at the Totogo police station after developer Freesoul Real Estate accused them of criminal trespass.

According to Newsroom.co.nz, while they have not been charged, they were locked up ahead of likely police interviews this morning.

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The journalists had visited Freesoul’s Suva offices seeking an interview but been told to leave. Hours later, while they interviewed a lawyer acting for villagers of the damaged Malolo Island, police located their rental car and arrived and escorted them to the police station for questioning.

Before their phones were taken, Reid says she, Jennings and Aull had visited the Freesoul office to talk about the Malolo damage.

Reid says they walked into the Freesoul office in Suva with a camera and asked why they had been operating at Malolo with no permits. They were asked to talk to Freesoul director Dickson Peng and were told to leave.

Later, after Freesoul staff had been interviewed at the police station, officers told Reid, Jennings and Aull they would be held overnight.

The lawyer for the villagers, Ken Chambers, who was talking to the Newsroom team when police located them, said last night the journalists could be held for up to 48 hours before being charged.

Chambers says the Malolo Island issue has been really a focus on how the Chinese are interfacing in Fiji.

A criminal lawyer had been engaged to represent Reid, Jennings and Aull and the New Zealand High Commission in Suva had been contacted for consular assistance.

We have sent questions to police regarding this issue and they are yet to reply while the Immigration Department is not aware of the issue at all.

 

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