SL anti-terror officials detain Sinhala paper director

[TamilNet, Monday, 26 February 2007, 22:10 GMT]
The Financial Director of the Sinhala language weekly "Mawbima", Dushantha Basnayake, has been detained by the Sri Lankan Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) Monday evening at his workplace in Colombo. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, in a televised address, Saturday had charged that the weekly was "pro LTTE." The paper is owned by Tiran Alles, a close confidante of Mangala Samaraweera, the former SL Foreign Minister who was recently sacked by Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse. Mr. Tiran Alles was also removed from Sri Lanka's Civil Aviation Authority this month.

TID officials interrogated Mr. Dushanthan Basnayake, 40, a father of two, at his office and detained the director according to "direct instructions," from the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry, informed media sources in Colombo said.

The weekly, launched in 2006 presents a broad spectrum of views by the Sinhala authors.

Mawbima has carried articles that criticized Mahinda Rajapakse's brothers as being responsible for the hardline approach of Rajapakse government and human rights violations.

Three months ago, on 23 November 2006, TID officials arrested Parameshwary Munusamy a Tamil reporter attached to the Mawbima paper.

Ms. Parameshwary is still detained by the TID.

On 19 January, officials of the Sri Lankan income tax department visited the offices of Mawbima and The Sunday Standard weeklies and took away the files containing details of advertisers. Both the weeklies are owned by Standard Newspaper Pvt. Ltd.

Despite the harassments, the paper has continued to present critical views.

Lately, a column named "Sathuranga's column," has been gaining popularity among it's readership, according to the media circles in Colombo.

The column was critical of the military strategy and tactics adopted by the Sri Lankan defence establishment.

Gotabaya Rajapakse, the brother of Mahinda Rajapakse, is the Defence Secretary.

Anura Bandaranaike, the brother of former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, had indirectly accused Rajapakse's brothers stating that "American passport holders" who stood close to Mr. Rajapakse, were behind death threats issued against him and Mangala Samaraweera.

Mr. Bandaranaike who was stripped of his ministry portfolio with Samaraweera, was again sworn in as the Sri Lankan Minister of National Heritage following a reconciliation attempt by SLFP stalwarts.


Chronology:


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26.01.07   Detained journalist files FR application
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