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A five member film crew from 60 Minutes Australia has been in detention in a hotel in Tarawa since Monday, for what government sources claim was false declaration by the team on arrival.
PACNEWS has been reliably informed the team arrived in Tarawa on a flight from Nadi on Monday and were immediately detained after they falsely declared that they were in Kiribati for a meeting.
“From my understanding the 60 Minutes crew is still in Tarawa and will return on their intended flight back on Thursday. They are however being detained due to their entry into the country under false pretences, a senior government official told PACNEWS.
The official who wished to remain anonymous said the Australian television crew was advised prior to their arrival to apply for a filming/research permit in order to get clearance from Immigration on arrival.
“When they arrived they declared that they were here for a meeting and failed to mention their filming intentions thus the false declaration grounds. If they had applied for their permits before arrival as advised, this would not have happened, said the official.
According to Immigration, the whole team breached the Kiribati (entry) laws and regulations.
“During their detention, they are forbidden from carrying out any filming since they did not declare this activity to Immigration upon their arrival.
“I’d like to stress again, the reason for their detainment is that they signed off false and misleading information on the purpose of their visit and conducted their business without proper documentation. Since they have breached the conditions of their visitor's permit, their presence in the country is now unlawful and they have to remain in the hotel until departure, explained the senior government official.
The five member crew, led by 60 Minutes reporter Liam Bartlett are currently being held under house arrest at the Utirerei hotel in Ambo until their flight back to Nadi on Thursday.
The government of Kiribati is expected to make a statement later today.
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