Senior Editor accuses SL President of issuing verbal threats

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 January 2006, 06:05 GMT]
Citing the complaint made by Editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper Mr. Lasantha Wikramatunge to the Inspector General of Police alleging that President Mahinda Rajapaksa threatened him with abusive language over the telephone, Free Media Movement (FMM) in a press release issued in Colombo Friday said, the incident "serves as a sombre reminder of the insecure and dangerous situation that journalists in Sri Lanka has to face."

Full text of the release follows:

FMM expresses serious concern regarding the complaint made by the Editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper Mr. Lasantha Wikramatunge to the Inspector General of Police alleging that President Mahinda Rajapaksa threatened him with abusive language over the telephone.

Mr. Wikramatunge sent his letter of complaint to the Inspector General of Police on 11.01.2006 and copied it to FMM as well. According to Mr. Wikramatunga's complaint the President used abusive and threatening language on the grounds that the Sunday Leader newspaper mentioned his wife.

FMM unreservedly condemns such behavior of the President if Mr. Wickramatunge’s allegations are verified to be true. Furthermore, we strongly regret the inability to obtain an official response to this allegation from the President's Office to date, even though requests were made to this effect.

The FMM considers any threat from any source in response to a story published by media as a serious threat to the inviolable freedom of expression.

The seriousness of a mere allegation that the President has allegedly used abusive and threatening language against a senior Editor sends shock waves in the media community and serves as a sombre reminder of the insecure and dangerous situation that journalists in Sri Lanka have to face.

The FMM strongly defends the right to criticise stories published by media provided all such criticisms are made within a democratic framework. It behoves those holding the highest offices in Sri Lanka to set an example by adhering to accepted democratic norms and principles and help build a progressive media culture in Sri Lanka.

The allegations made by Mr. Wickramatunge demand immediate investigation. The FMM strongly recommends an urgent and impartial inquiry into this matter in the hope that such an investigative process will restore public confidence in high political office and media freedoms in Sri Lanka.

Sunanda Deshapriya
Free Media Movement

 

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