Journalists arrested for exposing Sri Lanka Minister's financial improprieties

[TamilNet, Thursday, 25 October 2007, 15:21 GMT]
Following the Wednesday arrest of staff reporter of The Sunday Leader, Arthur Wamanan, related to a story in the newspaper that a Rs. 80,717 telephone bill of Enterprise Development Minister Mano Wijeratna's wife was paid by the National Gem Corporation, the CID has asked Investigative Editor of the paper, Dilrukshi Handunnetti, Thursday to come to the CID and record a statement pertaining to the same story, media reports from Colombo said.

The Free Media Movement (FMM) expressed its serious concern about the arbitrary arrest of Arthur Wamanan, a staff reporter of "The Sunday Leader". It is likely to create a dangerous precedent where journalists could be arrested on uncorroborated statements as a means of intimidation and harassment, FMM statement said.

According to the editor of "The Sunday Leader," Arthur Wamanan, in the best of journalistic traditions, telephoned Minister Mano Wijeratne to obtain his comments using his mobile telephone with regards to a story that appeared in an edition of "The Sunday Leader" titled "Minister gets Gem Authority to pay wife's roaming charges." The story was published in "The Sunday Leader" on 21 October 2007, the FMM statement further said.

Journalist Arthur's mother also was arrested and asked to make a statement as the mobile was registered on her name.

The journalist's arrest, based on a complaint brought by Mr. Wijeratne, will also create an unhealthy precedent where anyone, on a whim, could claim to have received calls demanding ransom or other favours. This will also prevent journalists from verifying information, which is the established journalistic practice, FMM statment said.


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