Reporters Without Borders calls on the Sri Lankan authorities to immediately release LankaeNews editor Benette Rupasinghe, who was today arrested by the Colombo police for allegedly threatening another man. Aged 68 and a diabetes sufferer, Rupasinghe is currently being held in the infirmary of Colombo prison.
The press freedom organization condemns the way the government is hounding Rupasinghe and the other journalists who work for this Colombo-based opposition news website. The methods it is using to silence opposition journalists are outrageous and unacceptable.
Rupasinghe was arrested when he went to Wellampitiya police today in response to a summons to make a statement. The police arrested him without taking him before a court. His lawyers tried without success to obtain his release on bail.
It seems he will now remain in detention until 7 April, pending the completion of the police investigation into the clearly premeditated arson attack on the LankaeNews office on 31 January. According to LankaeNews, the police have accused him of threatening the brother of a suspect in the arson attack.
Since the website’s creation in 2005, its staff have been the target of intimidation, threats, smear campaigns and abduction.
Rupasinghe’s arrest marks an escalation in the government’s campaign of harassment. Reporters Without Borders urges the international community and human rights and press freedom organizations to do everything possible to help get Rupasinghe released.