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Nauruan MP flees to New Zealand

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 12/07/2016

A Nauruan opposition MP held in the island nation for more than a year without charges has managed to rejoin his family in New Zealand.

Roland Kun has been locked in a protracted legal battle with the Nauruan government since he was taken off a Wellington-bound plane in June last year and had his passport cancelled .

Mr Kun's Nauruan passport was taken off him after a number of other opposition MPs were arrested following a protest outside the country's parliament.

He denied any involvement, was never charged and said the government's actions were a political and personal attack.

But a newly-issued New Zealand passport has now allowed Mr Kun to board a plane and reunite with his family at Wellington Airport on Monday afternoon.

"I'm so proud to be returning to my adopted country as a real Kiwi. After spending 12 months stranded in Nauru because of the actions of the government I just can't believe I'm finally going to see my beautiful family again," Mr Kun said in a statement.

Mr Kun applied to New Zealand citizenship in December under a humanitarian clause of the Citizenship Act and had his passport sent to him late last month.

His lawyer, Claudia Geiringer, said Mr Kun had used the disarray expected following the country's elections over the weekend to get through airport security.

"He waited until the very last minute, slipped through customs and got on the plane. He tells me that he thinks that at the point of departure the Nauru government did not know he was on the plane," she told Radio New Zealand.

His family have lived in New Zealand since his Australian partner, Katy Le Roy, was in 2014 fired as Nauru's parliamentary counsel and had her residence status revoked - in what Mr Kun says was a politically motivated attack on him.

She had since lived in Wellington with the couple's three children and is banned from travelling to Nauru.

Last year, the New Zealand government suspended the $1.2 million of aid it gives to Nauru's justice sector over concerns about the deterioration of civil rights and the rule of law.

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