For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
COLOMBO (AFP) – International media rights groups Friday asked Sri Lanka’s government to release the editor of a pro-opposition news website, a day after he was remanded in police custody for a week.
Police arrested Bennet Rupasinghe on Thursday for allegedly threatening a suspect wanted in connection with a January 31 arson attack on the office of the website, Lankaenews.com.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists asked diplomats to pressure Colombo to free Rupasinghe.
“Sri Lankan journalists are at the mercy of killers and kidnappers because the government has failed to meet its responsibility to protect them,” CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator Bob Dietz said in a statement.
“This arrest cries out for immediate international support, and we call on diplomats in Colombo to pressure authorities to meet their obligations,” Dietz said.
A cartoonist of Lankaenews.com, Prageeth Eknelygoda, has been missing since January last year and the website’s chief editor is now living in Europe after receiving death threats.
Paris-based Reporters without Borders, RSF, also called for Rupasinghe’s release and said the methods used by the Sri Lankan government to silence pro-opposition journalists were “outrageous and unacceptable.”
The Lankaenews.com attack in January followed a similar arson attack on a private television station, Siyatha, in Colombo last July.
A total of 17 journalists and media employees have been killed in Sri Lanka in the past decade.