FMM voices concern over intimidation of journalists

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 27 July 2004, 10:07 GMT]
In media release distributed in Colombo today the Free Media Movement (FMM) said that it viewed with concern "the police search of the residence of journalist Dharmaratnam Sivaram for the second time in a short period of time," and the statement by the Sri Lanka Government that "Mr. Sivaram will be interrogated on the news item posted on the Tamil Net" to reveal the source of the news. "FMM requests you to halt the tactics of intimidation," added the media release.

Full text of the media release follows:

"Inspector General of Police
Mr. Indra de Silva,
Police Head Quarters,
Colombo 01.


Dear Inspector General,

Mr.D.SivaramThe Free Media Movement (FMM) wishes to inform you that it is deeply concerned on the police search of the residence of journalist Dharmaratnam Sivaram for the second time in a short period of time. Mr. Sivaram is an editorial member of the ‘Tamil Net’ web site.

On mid night 3rd May 2004 his residence was searched by the police but were unable to discover anything or activity contrary to the law of the land. The FMM deems this second attempt as an attempt by the police to intimidate Mr. Sivaram.

Journalist Sivaram contributes to the mainstream newspapers in Sri Lanka and is an internationally acknowledged journalist. His feature articles as well as stories posted on the Tamil Net website, which are critical towards the government and portray social and political developments in Tamil society, and are invaluable in securing diversity in the Sri Lankan Media.

In this background attempts to intimidate Mr. Sivaram should be considered as a threat to the freedom of _expression. In this context, the FMM requests you to halt the tactics of intimidation adopted by the Police against Mr. Sivaram and to allow the rule of law to take its due course.

Furthermore, FMM is deeply concerned on the statement made by Mr. Thilak Ranaviraja, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security and Law and Order, that Mr. Sivaram will be interrogated on the news item posted on the Tamil Net regarding the mass killing of Tamil militants in Colombo on the morning of 25thJuly 2004. Tamil Net was the first to break the news on what appeared to be a clash between two Tamil militant factions.

The Police do not have any right to ask journalists to reveal their sources. It is a basic right of journalism to not disclose news sources. FMM requests the IGP not to direct any police officer to find out sources of Journalists.

Please note that FMM will be issuing this letter to the media here and abroad.

Signed
Sunanda Deshpriya 0777312457
Spokesperson
FMM"

 

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