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Harassment of journalists surges in first days of Rajapaksa presidency - RSF

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shares concerns that journalists in Sri Lanka have been subject to different forms of intimidation since Gotabaya Rajapaksa was sworn in as president. 

In a statement, RSF said that press freedom has been impacted just weeks after Gotabaya took office as president. 

Sakthivelpillai Prakash, the editor of the Tamil-language newspaper Thinnapuyal was questioned by plainclothes police in Vavuniya on November 25. He was interrogated about the newspaper’s coverage of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and “they asked him to provide the contact details of all of its reporters, which he refused to do.”

On November 26, the offices of Newshub.lk, a Colombo-based news website was raided by police who searched their servers, desktops and laptops. 

“The warrant produced by the police had expired on 12 December 2018, nearly a year ago, but the police brushed that aside, blaming a typing error, and continued to use the searchword “Gota” on all of the website’s computers to find and examine references to Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” the statement said. 

“This full-blown police raid on an independent news portal, compounded by a crude breach of criminal procedure, sends a very disturbing signal about respect for press freedom under Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

Read the full statement here.