VANUATU PUBLISHER CLAIMS HIS PAPER HAS BEEN THREATENED

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 29, 1999 – Radio Australia)---The publisher of Vanuatu's only independent newspaper claims he's been assaulted and threatened by associates of Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister Willy Jimmy.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports, the publisher of the Vanuatu Trading Post, Marc Neil-Jones, says that what began as a physical attack on him in a club in Port Vila on Saturday night, has blown up into a major issue concerning freedom of the media in Vanuatu:

"Marc Neil-Jones says he was going to run only a minor story on how an associate of Vanuatu's Deputy Prime Minister Willy Jimmy attacked him with a chair, but that Mr. Jimmy's political advisor had resorted to threats and intimidation to suppress any mention of the Deputy Prime Minister's name.

"The second time he spoke to the editor of the paper, he passed a message on from the Deputy Prime Minister that if Mr. Jimmy’s name was not removed from the story, the place would be trashed."

Mr. Neil-Jones says he's also disturbed about a visit to the paper by Mr. Jimmy's staff accompanied by police."

Sean Dorney, Port Vila

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