Sri Lankan newspaper raided by governmentPosted Feb 8 2010
Just days after President Mahinda Rajapaksa was re-elected for a second term, Lanka, a weekly newspaper, faced government interference.
Lanka's offices in Colombo were shut down, and the offices for its online publication were raided. Staff members of the online edition could not enter the building, which was surrounded by the police.
Lanka editor Chandana Sirimalwatte was taken into custody by the Criminal Investigation Department a day earlier.
The publication supported the opposition party throughout the election.
Journalists and news outlets that have criticized Rajapaksa's administration faced increased intimidation this week, as the election season ended.
A Sri Lankan journalist went missing a day before the presidential election, but local police said the upcoming election had precedence over an investigation into the disappearance.
Prageeth Eknaligoda, a reporter for Lankaenews and Sirata, left for work in Colombo and never returned. His wife filed a statement with the police.
Reporters Without Borders reports that Eknaligoda might have been targeted for criticizing the current government. “Last week he wrote a long comparative analysis of the two main candidates for the presidential election that was published in Sinhalese on the Lankaenews site. He sided with the opposition. We fear that his disappearance is linked to that article,” said a Sri Lankan journalist to the press freedom organization.
The following day, Web sites for the independently-run Lankaenews, Lankanewsweb, Infolanka and Sri Lanka Guardian were blocked throughout the country.
Sri Lanka Telecom, the country's main Internet Service Provider, was responsible for blocking the sites. Users could still access the Web sites by using independent ISPs.