Sri Lanka remands anti-govt website employee

Sri Lanka-based news editor of lankaenews.com, was arrested and remanded in custody until April 7.

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2011, 21:20 PM IST

Colombo: Sri Lankan police remanded in custody on Thursday an employee of an anti-government website over allegations that he made threats to the brother of an arson suspect.

Police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said Bennet Rupasinghe, the Sri Lanka-based news editor of lankaenews.com, was arrested and remanded in custody until April 7.

"Mr Rupasinghe had allegedly threatened the brother of a suspect who is alleged to be involved in an arson attack on the website office," Jayakody told a news agency.

The office, just out of Colombo, was torched in January and the editor, Sandaruwan Senadeera, blamed the fire on the government.

Senadeera fled to Britain after saying he had received death threats, and has alleged the arson attack was a concerted effort by the government to silence websites that do not support the administration.

"The situation for the media in Sri Lanka is going from bad to worse," Senadeera told the news agency by telephone in January.

Another contributor to lankaenews.com, cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda, disappeared two days before the January 2010 presidential election in what is assumed to be an abduction case.

The lankaenews.com attack appeared similar to the burning of private television station Siyatha in Colombo last July, local observers say.

A total of 17 journalists and media employees have been killed in Sri Lanka in the past decade, prompting rights groups to say that many local reporters exercise self-censorship to avoid confrontations with the authorities.

Bureau Report