No criminal probe into Samoa Observer reporter: Commissioner
A Samoa Observer reporter is not under criminal investigation despite being questioned by Police on Thursday, the Police Commissioner has confirmed.
Joyetter Feagaimaali'i, the Samoa Observer’s Chief Reporter, was questioned by Inspector Moefauo Taualai Luuga of the Police’s Professional Standards Unit at his request on Thursday afternoon.
Feagaimaali'i was asked to reveal her sources and repeatedly declined to do so. After a brief period of questioning at Police headquarters in town Feagaimaali'i left without providing the Police with a statement.
On Friday the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, said that Feagaimaali herself was not the subject of any criminal probe.
“According to the Inspector, he is investigating a case where your identified reporter is a witness,” the Commissioner said.
“She was never detained or interrogated. She was asked to come in for a voluntary statement. She did come in on her own and subsequently refused to provide any responses to basic investigative questions.”
The Commissioner said that the Police in Samoa was not an impediment to journalism in Samoa so long as it remains within legal bounds.
“From our perspective, the media can report on matters it thinks is of interest to them or the public,” he said.
“I don’t see an issue in inquiring or reporting on any matter, including Police-related activities; as long as it is reported professionally, factually, and balanced—and of course the content does not legally defame anyone.”
The Samoa Observer understands the investigation relates to a possible breach of the 2013 Audit Act which makes it a crime to publish or disclose any Government review that has not yet been tabled before Parliament and wound through Parliament’s committee process.
The Samoa Observer has not published a story based on material that breaches the provisions of that Act.
Once audit reports complete their way through the Parliamentary process the law deems them legal to be reported on.