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Lanka arrests scribe

world Updated: Mar 31, 2011 23:38 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A senior web journalist was arrested on Thursday for allegedly threatening the brother of a suspect, said to be behind the arson attack which gutted a website office in January this year.

News editor of Lanka E News website, Bennet Rupasinghe, was picked up by the police on Thursday after he went to the police station to give a statement.

Police spokesperson Prasahanta Jayakkody told reporters that Rupasinghe has been taken into custody on the basis of a complaint made by the brother of the suspect who is under police remand and is being questioned over the arson attack on the office of the Lanka e News earlier this year.

He was later remanded to judicial custody till April 7 by a court.

Reports said Rupasinghe was additionally charged for allegedly having an armed group threaten the complainant at gunpoint on March 11 and withholding information from the police regarding the attack on Lanka e-News.

In January this year, a group of unidentified people broke into the office of the Lanka E News portal and set fire to all the fixtures and equipment they could find.

Following protests by media groups, the government had ordered an enquiry into the incident. Subsequently, arrests were made in the case.

Earlier Prageeth Eknaligoda, a cartoonist and columnist with Lanka E News went missing in January 2010, just days before polls opened in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections. He has not yet been traced.

The US embassy in Colombo had expressed concern over the attack on the news portal and had urged the Sri Lanka government that the investigation be conducted quickly and fairly and that all the perpetrators be brought to justice.

In a strongly worded statement, the US embassy said that “regardless of who is responsible for this incident, such violence directed against a media institution silences voices, further threatens freedom of expression, and undermines democracy throughout the country.”