Colombo denies visa extension to AP's Sri Lanka bureau chief

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 July 2009, 00:17 GMT]
Associated Press reported Tuesday that AP's bureau chief in Sri Lanka, Ravi Nessman, left Sri Lanka Monday after Colombo refused to extend Nessman's journalist visa. "We find this failure to renew Ravi's visa disturbing," John Daniszewski, AP's senior managing editor for international news, was quoted as saying in media reports. Colombo reports said that Nessman broke news of private U.N. reports outlining civilian death tolls, and also revealed the "first word of a government document from January outlining a plan to keep hundreds of thousands of displaced" Tamil civilians in the camps for up to three years.

Office of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse denies the ouster, reasoning that foreign reporters are usually based in Colombo for two years.

Nessman had completed two years in Sri Lanka and applied for extension when the renewal was declined.

Dilip Ganguly, Nessman's predecessor stayed in Sri Lanka as bureau chief for ten years from 1997 to 2007.

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York based media watchdog, in a special reported published in June, said Sri Lanka topped the list of countries that drove the largest number of journalists into exile. "At least 11 Sri Lankan journalists were driven into exile in the past 12 months amid an intensive government crackdown on critical reporters and editors," the report said, adding the number worldwide totalled 39.

Of these journalists, 29 were driven out of threat of violence, 7 threat of imprisonment, and 2 out of harrassment, the report added.

Ravi Nessman has covered the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He joined AP in Chicago in '94 and worked in Newark, NJ, and Philadelphia before joining the International Desk in New York in '97. In '00, he became southern Africa news editor and transferred to Jerusalem as a correspondent in '03. He moved to Colombo, Sri Lanka in '07. Nessman has a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

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External Links:
US: Nessman Sri Lanka articles
LATimes: Nessman's world reporting for LA Times


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