Federation of Journalists (IFJ) renews its call for the immediate release of Lanka-e-News news editor Bennett Rupasinghe,
who was arrested in Sri Lanka on March 31.
Rupasinghe’s arrest follows an arson
attack on Lanka-e-News which destroyed the website’s
premises in Malabe, near Colombo,
on January 31.
The IFJ also holds fears that efforts
may be made to implicate Rupasinghe’s colleagues Shantha Wijesooriya and Sanjaya Dassanayake in
the attack, after state-run media published reports
on the incident which the journalists say are defamatory and false.
According to IFJ affiliate the Free
Media Movement (FMM), Rupasinghe,
68, was taken into custody in Wellampitiya after the local officer in charge
called him into the police station.
Rupasinghe was questioned for three
hours in regard to phone calls made to and from his mobile phone following the arson
attack. He was then charged on accusations of making threatening phone calls. Rupasinghe
denies all charges.
was remanded by the Kaduwela Magistrate until April 7 and detained at the
Welikada prison in Colombo.
He suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure. The Network of Sri Lanka
journalists and human rights defenders in exile (NfR) reports he has
been prevented from receiving food from home.
silent protest outside the court by the Sri Lanka
Alliance of Media Organisations was to be held at Kaduwela Magistrates Court today,
ahead of Rupasinghe’s expected appearance.
Since Rupasinghe’s arrest, there are
concerns that Wijesooriya and Dassanayake may be detained on accusations such
as engaging in “unlawful activities”, a vague charge which could see them held
indefinitely under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Both men report they have been followed
on their way to work on several occasions since the arson attack, according to
“The IFJ demands authorities conduct
an independent and thorough investigation into the attack on Lanka-e-News and immediately release Bennett Rupasinghe,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director
Jacqueline Park said.
“We are also very worried that Wijesooriya
and Dassanayake could be dragged into the case on spurious
grounds under the internationally condemned Prevention of Terrorism
Several Lanka-e-News journalists have raised concerns
about police investigations into the attack. Two suspects were detained but promptly
released on bail when police said they had no evidence.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents 600,000
journalists in 125 countries
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