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Journalist shot and wounded; website receives threats following politician's critical speech

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

Journalist shot at in Colombo

On 30 October 2007, at approximately 11:45 p.m. (local time), journalist Kumudu Champika Jayawardana of the informational website http://www.ethalaya.org was fired upon in Colombo, as he returned home from the office on his motorcycle. Two men in shorts waved at him to stop his motorcycle, but Jayawardana rode past them only to be shot in the back.

The shooting took place on Nawala Road, in Rajagiriya. He was admitted to Colombo General Hospital and underwent emergency surgery. His situation is not critical, his colleagues told FMM.

The website for which Jayawardana works was recently launched as the on-line version of the popular Sinhala language television channel Sirasa. Sirasa is part of the MTV/MBC network, owned by Capitol Maharaja Organisation Limited. Jayawardana is the news editor for the website.

Following the withdrawal of the licenses of five popular radio stations by the government, state media have unleashed another anti-media campaign to justify the government's action. In the week before this incident, government politicians have made political speeches expressing strong opinions against Sinhala-language news websites. One of the websites mentioned in these speeches, http://www.LankaeNews.com, has since received various threats.

It is in this context that te shooting of Jayawardana must be understood.

Although FMM does not have any evidence to hold any particular party responsible for this shooting, the organisation expresses its serious concern that yet another journalist has been shot at, and earnestly asks the government to conduct an open and speedy inquiry into this incident.

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