For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
A Britain-based website, banned in Sri Lanka, has come under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).�The move is said to be a prelude to the Government instituting legal proceedings in British courts against the website for what is being called “scurrilous and often false reporting on Sri Lankan issues.” The court action is to cite specific instances where VIPs have been reportedly maligned by the website.
Last week, investigations by CID detectives focused on how the website in question was funded. Some Colombo firms, which placed advertisements, have been questioned. One in particular in the motor trade has told detectives that he had made payment to Google which in turn was placing the ads in various websites including the one under probe.
This week, detectives recorded statements from officials in the Colombo office of Google to determine how funds for advertisements were being collected and placed in websites. The CID wants to determine whether such funds are being handled in accordance with the country’s tax laws and exchange control regulations.
CID sources said a comprehensive dossier on the website would be handed over to the Attorney General’s Department. Such a dossier, they said, would include the identities of Sri Lankans domiciled abroad and allegedly defaming VIPs in obscene language. Already, legal help from London has been sought. A leading firm is to appear on behalf of the Government and will argue on the grounds that even British laws were being violated to defame those in Sri Lanka.