SRI LANKA: A journalist's abduction attempt thwarted
Shantha Wijesooriya, an investigative web journalist attached to srilankaxnews.com freed himself after a scuffle with his abductors, when they tried to bundle him into a vehicle in broad daylight in Nugegoda, a densely populated suburbs of Colombo. The attempt was made during the afternoon rush hours by unidentified men in civil attire who arrived in a white colored van. The incident was reported a week after the police intelligence men raided the office of srilankaxnews.com, where Wijesooriya is employed.
On the 29th of June, the officers attached to Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Colombo Crime Division (CCD) raided the office of Sri Lanka Mirror and Sri Lanka X News web sites in Colombo raising local and international concerns. During the raid nine journalists and media workers were arrested and were charged with defaming president and his 'royal glory'. They were released on bail on the following day after being produced before the Colombo Magistrates Court.
Expressing their protest over the latest abduction attempt, an alliance of media organizations in Sri Lanka, on Friday, issued a statement demanding that the government ensure the safety of the journalist Wijessoriya. "Shantha Wijesooriya is a free lance journalist and an Executive Committee member of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association. During the recent period, he has been followed and threatened by men believed to be members of the security forces, as he was instrumental in exposing the involvement of powerful politicians in organized crime and corruption," the statement said.
"The government and the defence authorities should bear the responsibility for the latest abduction attempt since they have repeatedly failed to act to bring any of the perpetrators to justice, who are responsible for the crimes committed against journalists and social activists" it further added. The alliance is a joint front of six organizations consisting of journalist's trade unions and media rights groups.
Sri Lanka has one of the worst records in the world for press freedom and journalist's safety and as has been repeatedly highlight by international media watch dogs. According to the detailed information gathered by the JDS, the government and its paramilitaries stand accused of killing at least 39 journalists and media workers since May 2004.