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Sri Lankan CID seizes journalist’s laptop in Colombo raid

Officers from Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) raided the Colombo residence of journalist Dharisha Bastians and seized her laptop earlier this month, raising concerns over the safety of her sources.

Bastians, who is also a correspondent for the New York Times and former chief editor of the Sunday Observer, said the raid happened earlier this month “after two separate attempts to obtain the device without a court order”.

“For several months now my name has been linked to an ongoing criminal investigation into an alleged abduction that took place in November 2019,” she said in a statement released on Twitter. “In connection with this investigation, the Criminal Investigation Department has questioned my associates and former. Colleagues specifically regarding my election devices.”

"I remain gravely concerned about potential efforts by interested parties to compromise the integrity of hardware, software, data and documents of the laptop and any other electronic material/devices belonging to me, obtained by law enforcement,” she added.

Bastians also revealed that the CID had previously “scrutinized and exposed” her call data records without a court order. “As a journalist, I was horrified at the public exposure of my telephone records which could seriously endanger & compromise my sources & contacts then, now & in future,” she tweeted.

The journalist, who reportedly fled the island in the wake of Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election victory last year, has been named by Sri Lankan authorities as being connected to the alleged abduction of a Swiss embassy staffer in November 2019.