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Sri Lanka 5 June 2006

Concern about accusations and threats against journalists

Reporters Without Borders voiced “great concern” today about public accusations in the media and on websites against journalists who met with a leader of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in the northern town of Kilinochchi on 16 May 2006, and the death threats they have received on several occasions.

“We call on the Sri Lankan government to ensure the safety of these journalists and we urge the media and websites that have been trying to intimidate them to desist,” the press freedom organisation said.

Sunanda Deshapriya and Sitha Ranjanee of the Free Media Movement, Poddala Jayanthe of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, Dharmasiri Lankapeli of the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions and journalist Prasanna Fonseka went to Kilinochchi on 16 May with representatives of other journalists’ groups to meet with S.P. Thamilselvan, one of the leaders of the Tamil Tigers, telling him of their concern about the calls for Tamil journalists to resign from jobs in the governmental media.

After the meeting, several pro-government media carried articles accusing the five journalists of being traitors and Tamil Tiger spies.

Dharmeratnam Sivaram, the editor of the Tamilnet website and columnist for the local Daily Mirror newspaper who was killed in Colombo on 28 April 2005, had on several occasions voiced fears for his safety after police searched his home and pro-government media accused him of being a Tamil Tiger spy.

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