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Retransmission of Makkal TV obstructed by military; website editor Sandaruwan Senadheera questioned for several hours over article

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders urges the Sri Lankan authorities to stop obstructing local retransmission of Makkal TV, a station based in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Jaffna residents told Reporters Without Borders that the local retransmission of this popular TV station has been banned since 18 February 2009.

Army officers in the Jaffna peninsula reportedly ordered local TV cable operators to stop offering Makkal TV's programming. The station's coverage of the situation in Vanni and its political analyses are thought to have irritated the military.

However, the Sri Lankan government insists that it has not placed any restriction on Makkal TV ( http://www.makkal.tv ), contrary to that station's claims and the message posted on its website. Makkal TV was created by Tamil politician S. Ramadoss of the Pattali Makkal Katchi party.

In a separate development, Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the Criminal Investigation Department's interrogation of Sandaruwan Senadheera, the editor of the Lanka-e-News website ( http://www.lankaenews.com/English/index.html ). Senadheera was questioned for about eight hours on 19 February as a result of a complaint by defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse about an article posted on the website the day before.

It was the second time that the police have questioned Senadheera about his articles. He is already being prosecuted over a March 2008 article about foreign minister Palitha Kohona, who filed a complaint.

The police also searched the website's office and took away several documents relating to the articles.

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