The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) joins partner organisations in the South Asia Media Solidarity Network
(SAMSN) in calling on the Sri Lanka’s authorities to guarantee the safety of
journalist Shantha Priyadarshana Wijesooriya, target of an attempted abduction in
Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, on July 5, 2012.
Wijesooriya is a well-known journalist who currently
works with the online news portal SriLankaXNews.com. The office premises of the
news portal were raided by Sri Lanka’s police on June 29, when several
journalists were arrested and equipment confiscated. Wijesooriya is also a
member of the editorial board of the Sinhala language newspaper, Mawbima and was between 2007 and 2011, a
frequent contributor of investigative stories to the Lanka-e-News web portal.
Having earned a reputation for investigative
stories on human rights concerns and official malfeasance, Wijesooriya has
reportedly been under surveillance by security and intelligence agencies in
recent times. A number of suspicious inquiries by intelligence officials in his
home village and frequent telephone calls from these sources have been reported
all through 2011 and later.
On July 5, Wijesooriya reported being followed
by three persons, of whom one was recognisable as a person from Sri Lanka’s
intelligence agencies, as he went to a suburb of Colombo city to visit a
friend. The three reportedly made an attempt to force him into a waiting van.
He was able to break free and escape in a three wheeler taxi. He has since been
in hiding and has filed a complaint with Sri Lanka’s Inspector-General of
“We are seriously concerned for the safety of
Wijesooriya, a member of the managing committee of the Sri Lanka Working
Journalists’ Association (SLWJA)”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.
“We call on Sri Lanka’s government to take
note of urgent public concerns expressed on this count by national and
international press freedom bodies”.
“If Wijesooriya comes to any harm in the next
few weeks and months, the burden of proof would be on Sri Lanka’s security and
intelligence agencies to establish that they were not involved”.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific