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FMM staff member threatened with abduction; police take no action

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

Free Media Movement Treasurer receives threats and asked to pay ransom

18th April 2008, Colombo, Sri Lanka - The FMM is appalled to place on record that its treasurer, journalist K. Rushangan, has received threats demanding the payment of a ransom before 25 April 2008.

K. Rushangan is the editor of the Tamil-language news and information website and the Tamil journal "Saamadana Nokku" (Peace Monitor), published by the Center for Policy Alternatives. He also edited the Tamil-language daily "Thinakkahir", published in Batticaloa, from 2000 to 2002.

On 13 April at around 4:00 pm (local time), a person calling himself "Ealaventhan" and claiming to be from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebel group demanded that Rushangan hand over to him a motorbike or the cash equivalent of US$1500. The first deadline given was 16 April. When Rushangan refused to pay, saying that he was not in a position to do so, the caller threatened to abduct the journalist.

Though Rushangan lodged a complaint with the Dehiwala police on 16 April, no one has been questioned or arrested by the police to date, a situation the FMM finds wholly unacceptable in light of the seriousness and urgency of the situation.

The FMM does not have any information on the reasons for, or the persons behind, these threats. However, given the impunity with which extrajudicial killings and abductions take place in Sri Lanka today, the FMM hold the police responsible for the safety and security of Rushangan and urge them to take immediate action to bring the culprits to justice.

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