|MAY 23, 2004|
Posted: May 25, 2004
Jeff Hampton, TV3
Hampton, a New Zealand journalist for the program "3 News" on the private, New Zealand-based television channel TV3 who had worked as news director at the state-owned Fiji TV in the late 1990s, was deported from Fiji's Nadi International Airport less than an hour after arriving there with his family. According to local and international news reports, Hampton had traveled to Fiji for a vacation.
The deportation was linked to Hampton's reporting for TV3 about the failed coup in Fiji in May 2000, according to news reports. The coup attempt began when ethnic Fijian rebel leader George Speight seized control of the parliamentary complex in the capital, Suva, taking the prime minister, an ethnic Indian, and many members of his multiracial Cabinet hostage. While Speight was eventually deposed and elections were held the following year, the coup attempt ushered in a period of political instability in the country.
Hampton's coverage of the crisis included video footage showing indigenous Fijians using firearms, and ethnic Indian Fijians held in detention camps during the coup, according to The Associated Press. The footage was smuggled out of Fiji to Hampton, in New Zealand.
Hampton told reporters that Fijian authorities told him he was a "prohibited immigrant" and would be arrested if he entered the country. Mr. Hampton had been unaware that he was banned from Fiji, he said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Foreign Minister Phil Goff condemned Hampton's deportation.
After Hampton's report aired, then Fiji High Commissioner Isimeli Bainimara made a complaint to New Zealand's Broadcasting Standards Authority. The authority upheld only one of eight parts of the complaint, finding that TV3 had inappropriately described the footage as "the latest incident" when in fact it was two weeks old, the New Zealand Herald reported.