Former Fiji journalist Josefa Nata says 2000 coup leader George Speight has served enough time in prison and should be released.

Nata was convicted of instigating the 2000 mutiny and granted a presidential pardon by President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere in December 2023.

Speaking to the Fiji Times newspaper’s online platform, The Lens@177 in Suva, he said Speight, who has been serving time in prison for more than 20 years, should have been released alongside himself, Naitasiri chief Ratu Inoke Takiveikata and Ratu Timoci Silatolu.

“Yes, I was a bit sad when I found out that he was not included but I found out there are reasons,” Nata said.

“I’ve personally spoken to the former attorney-general (Siromi Turaga), I’ve spoken to the Prime Minister. If things go well, I will hopefully talk to the Commander Kalouniwai if he’s willing to see me.”

Nata said while being incarcerated, he had learned to forgive those who had a hand in keeping him imprisoned.

“Before I went to prison, life sentences were about 10 years. But, you know, 24 years is a bit ridiculous.

“And unfortunately, it was nothing to do with the law. I think it’s more to do with the whims of those in authority.

“But to answer your question, he should have been out and hopefully he’ll be coming out soon.”

He said Speight and former army captain Shane Stevens, the leader of the November 2000 mutiny, have been busy serving the community behind bars and should be considered for release.

“There’s a lot of unforgiveness out there. The guy (Speight) has served his time so has Shane Stevens.

“There’s no reason at all to continue to keep him in prison.

“The man has changed; men like me we have realised that because of our age. Maybe I should not be talking on his behalf but that is what I know and given the opportunity he will explain himself.”

Meanwhile, the former journalist Josefa Nata says you engage in foolishness, you must be prepared to take the consequences.

Nata who was part of the 2000 coup that overthrew the democratically elected Mahendra Chaudhry government says his time in jail has helped him realise his wrongdoing.

He reflected on his regrets, spending 23 years in prison and life after jail.

Nata said being in prison for 23 years helped him realise his mistake.

“That’s the thing that prison does, it gives you time for reflection,” he said.

“And I realised early that firstly it can never be justified. It was when I realised that it changed my whole perspective.

“But like I said, you engage in foolishness you must be prepared to take the consequences.”

He said the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would bring about many uncomfortable truths, however, Fiji needed this to move forward.

“If it’s for the purpose of trying to solve the issues confronting the nation, but not for punishment.

“You know, people will not come in if they know that they will go into prison.

“For the purpose of coming out with the truth, deal with the truth and because healing will never happen unless you know the truth.

“Some people are saying, why should we open up a can of worms, but if we want to heal, we have to confront some of those issues.

“Maybe not comfortable for some of us but I think we need it. I think the people deserve to know and to participate in this process.”

He acknowledged the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), under the leadership of Commander Major General Ro Jone Kalouniwai, for working towards healing and reconciliation within the RFMF.