Media group condemns "treason" allegations about Sri Lanka journalists

Place: Sri Lanka | Courtesy: AFP
| Date: 20000730

COLOMBO, July 30 (AFP) - International media rights group, RSF -- reporters without borders -- has expressed concern over allegations of "treason" and "spying" levelled by Sri Lanka's pro-government media against local reporters.

The RSF said it had asked Sri Lanka's media minister Mangala Samaraweera in a letter to ensure "this intimidation campaign against opposition journalists stops."

The Paris-based RSF, in a copy of the letter made available to reporters here Sunday, urged the government to take action aginst those responsible for the threats.

RSF general secretary Robert Menard said the smear campaign could have serious consequences for the journalists concerned.

The group noted that two opposition journalists were killed in 1999. The murderers have never been identified.

According to the information collected by RSF, on 18 July, pro-government newspaper The Jana Ravaya published an article in which four journalists were accused of "betraying the country to the Tigers."

The journalists named were Roy Denish, correspondent on military issues with opposition weekly The Sunday Leader, Saman Wagaarachchi, editor of Irida Peramuna (the Sinhala edition of The Sunday Leader), P. Sivaram, columnist with the Daily Mirror, and P. Seevagan, a reporter with the Tamil service of the BBC.

The Patriotic Journalists Front, which issued the press release on which the article was based, claimed the journalists "gave military information to the Tigers movement" and are "spies based in Colombo".

Since 3 May, the government has extended censorship to all "military news."