Another blow to media freedom
By Yohan Perera Opposition UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe charged yesterday charged the attempted arrest of MTV Channel 1 Chief Chevan Daniel was yet another blow to media freedom and the government and police should openly state there was no such move.
Mr. Wickremesinghe told journalists that neither the police nor the government had so far denied any move to arrest Mr. Daniel and alleged that he was asked to report to the police station after being labelled an LTTEer over the state TV station Rupavahini.
“The police have not given any reason for asking him to do so,”
Mr.Wickremesinghe said and added that they had made this request despite President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s assurance that he was committed to safeguard media freedom.
He said according to the country’s laws a journalist could be arrested only if he directly promotes separatism and said in public he was going to kill some one.
“In Mr. Daniel’s case he had only accused elements close to the state as being behind the recent attack on the Sirasa/MTV transmitting station,” he said.
“Even amid war the laws won’t remain silent,’ Mr. Wickremesinghe said quoting Lord Anderson. Mr. Wickremesinghe said this was not the first time a journalist was arrested and recalled how Mawbima journalist Parameswari was arrested and released by court later after it found there was no evidence against her.
He said he was speaking on behalf of journalists on a request made by some media personnel.