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Group storms journalist's house, warns him against reporting on defence and military matters

(FMM/IFEX) - The following is a 31 May 2008 FMM press release:

Another journalist warned not to report matters related to defence

The FMM has learned that Sirimevan Kasthuriarachchi, a senior defence reporter for "Sinhala Divaina" newspaper of the Upali Newspapers Group, was sternly warned against reporting on matters related to defence and the Sri Lankan Army. The warning was issued by an unknown group of individuals who stormed into his residence on 29 May 2008 at approximately 4:00 a.m. (local time).

FMM vehemently condemns the warning which, the organisation believes, is linked to the recent spike in attacks against journalists reporting on matters related to national security and defence.

Kasthuriarachchi, a former officer of the Sri Lanka Air Force who has a brother who went missing in action while fighting in the North and East, has reported on defence matters for over two decades. When he imparted this information to the group, he was told that irrespective of who he was and what he said, reporting on military matters needed to stop forthwith.

Kasthuriarachchi added that officials have recently blocked him from accessing information from the army.

According to FMM, the incident is another example of the violence prevailing against media personnel and the growing challenges to independent reporting and analysis of the on-going war between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

FMM called on the police to investigate the warning, pointing out that the incident further erodes media freedom in Sri Lanka and puts into question the ability and willingness of the government to protect and strengthen freedom of expression.

For more alerts and reports on media freedom in Sri Lanka, visit the FMM blog: http://freemediasrilanka.wordpress.com

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