CID arrests Sunday Leader journalist in Colombo

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 22:02 GMT]
Colombo based media watchdog, the Free Media Movement (FMM) Thursday expressed serious concern on the arbitrary arrest of a Tamil staff reporter of The Sunday Leader, Arthur Wamanan, by the Sri Lankan Criminial Investingation Department (CID) Thursday.

Full text of the press release by the FMM follows:

Journalist arrested on uncorroborated statement by a Minister

Free Media Movement expresses its serious concern about the arbitrary arrest of Arthur Wamanan, a staff reporter of "The Sunday Leader". It is likely to create a dangerous precedent where journalists could be arrested on uncorroborated statements as a means of intimidation and harassment.

According to the editor of "The Sunday Leader", Arthur Wamanan in the best of journalistic traditions telephoned Minister Mano Wijeratne to obtain his comments using his mobile telephone with regards to a story that appeared in an edition of "The Sunday Leader" titled "Minister gets Gem Authority to pay wife's roaming charges." The story was published in "The Sunday Leader" on 21 October 2007.

Journalist Arthur's mother also was arrested and asked to make a statement as the mobile was registered on her name.

The journalist's arrest, based on a complaint brought by Mr. Wijeratne, will also create an unhealthy precedent where anyone, on a whim, could claim to have received calls demanding ransom or other favours. This will also prevent journalists from verifying information, which is the established journalistic practice.

It is important to note that Mr. Wijeratne, who made this outlandish statement, claims that he also did not record his conversation, which does not add credence to his statement. Furthermore, he took cover under parliamentary privilege and made a statement that was given wide publicity, precludes others from an opportunity to respond.

In FMM's opinion, this incident will have a negative impact on the entire media community and will naturally result in further creating a different method of intimidation, harassment and even arrests of journalists.


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