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Minister admits desire to hire hackers to disable news website; remarks tantamount to "cyber-terrorism," says FMM

(FMM/IFEX) - The following is an FMM press release:

Government Minister admits to cyber-terrorism: Attempts to hack Tamilnews website

21st June 2007, Colombo, Sri Lanka - The Free Media Movement (FMM) unequivocally condemns the outrageous statement by Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, as reported by the BBC's Sinhala Service and by AFP today, that he would love to hire hackers to disable Tamilnet, but had not found anyone yet for the job.

Minister Rambukwella's statement is tantamount to government sanctioned cyber-terrorism against websites that do not toe its line. The reference to the use of hackers to shut down websites is a strategy that violates the responsibility to protect fundamental rights of citizens, including the freedom of expression and the right to information, of a Government Minister. The Minister's statement also puts him at cross purposes with the Computer Crimes Bill enacted in Sri Lanka earlier this year, holding him culpable under the law for attempting to hack into a website with the intent to cause disruption.

The FMM seeks urgent clarification from the Government as to whether Minister Rambukwella's comments are indicative of official Government policy to shutdown, disrupt or censor content and websites on the Internet. If not, the FMM seeks a full retraction from the Minister and reiterates that the Government must immediately unblock access to Tamilnet in Sri Lanka.

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