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Switzerland summons Sri Lankan ambassador over abduction of embassy employee

Ambassador Hanspeter Mock with Foreign Affairs Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena earlier today.

The Swiss government has summoned Sri Lanka's ambassador to Bern, after the abduction of an embassy employee on Monday, just days after Sri Lanka's new president Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power.

Pierre-Alain Eltschinger, a Swiss ministry spokesman told Swissinfo in a written statement that "Switzerland promptly reported the incident to the Sri Lankan authorities and is demanding an immediate and complete investigation into the circumstances surrounding it".

The embassy employee was abducted in a vehicle, detained and threatened her to disclose "embassy related information," before releasing her.

The New York Times reports the men "forced her to unlock her cellphone data, which contained information about Sri Lankans who have recently sought asylum in Switzerland, and the names of Sri Lankans who aided them as they fled the country because they feared for their safety after Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the presidency in elections this month". Before releasing her, they reportedly threatened to kill her if she told anyone of her ordeal.

Switzerland's foreign ministry called the abduction a "serious and unacceptable attack".

The employee was also said to have been questioned about Nishantha Silva, head of the organised crimes investigation unit at the CID, who reportedly fled to Switzerland with his family, without the approval of the Sri Lankan police department. The investigator had reportedly been fearing for his security since the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as Sri Lankan president. 

Silva had been credited with pushing through several high profile cases implicating military and state personnel, including the abduction of 11 youths, with 13 navy personnel arrested in connection with the case and senior navy officials pending investigation. He has also been investigating the death of a Tamil detainee in police custody, as well as the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge.

The Sri Lankan ambassador to Switzerland has been summoned to the foreign ministry in Bern, Swissinfo.ch reported.

Earlier today, Hanspeter Mock, Switzerland’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka paid a courtesy call to Dinesh Gunawardena at Sri Lanka's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Government of Sri Lanka have claimed that they were unaware of the alleged incident.

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