US condemns attack on British Embassy officer, SLPI Director

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 01 July 2008, 13:46 GMT]
The United States Embassy in Colombo on Tuesday condemned the attack on a staff member of British High Commission and a director of the Sri Lankan Press Institute (SLPI) on Monday in the heart of Colombo. The attack on Media Director of the SLPI Namal Perera and the British Embassy officer Mahendra Ratnaweera was carried out at Narahenpitya in Colombo near the Sri Lankan Department of Information by a group of attackers, who came in a white van Monday evening. The attack came a few days after a government paper alleged that the SLPI had sent members connected to LTTE to a course in Denmark under Journalist label.

Last Thursday, the Free Media Movement (FMM), a Colombo based media watchdog, had expressed serious concern against a false story planted in the Sri Lankan state controlled newspaper, 'Dinamina'. "This allegation coming form a state media today is equal to unofficial death sentence passed on those journalists. FMM holds government and the news paper responsible for the dangerous situation that has been created for these journalists by this story who ever planted it," the FMM had noted.

Also, the British High Commissioner Peter Hayes, who visited the officials at the hospital condemned the attack on them as a ‘despicable act’.

Full text of the press release issued by the U.S. Embassy in Colombo follows:

U.S. Condemns Attack on British High Commission and Sri Lanka Press Institute Staff Members

Colombo, July 1, 2008: The United States condemns the brutal and unprovoked attack on a member of the British High Commission staff and an official of the Sri Lankan Press Institute on June 30. We call on the authorities to bring the perpetrators of this crime swiftly to justice.

We are deeply concerned by a series of recent incidents involving members of the Sri Lankan media. A press that is free of intimidation is an essential component of any democracy. We note the recent formation of a ministerial committee to ensure the independence of the media, inquire into complaints of harassment and death threats against media personnel and intervene where warranted, and hope this leads to a more conducive environment for the practice of journalism in Sri Lanka.


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