Thursday, April 7, 2011

Court grants bail for detained Sri Lanka editor

COLOMBO (AFP) – The editor of a pro-opposition Sri Lankan news website was released on bail Thursday, a week after his arrest sparked protests from international media rights groups.

Bennet Rupasinghe had been taken into police custody on charges of allegedly threatening a suspect wanted for a January arson attack on the offices of his website,

Magistrate Jayaki de Alwis turned down a police request to extend Rupasinghe's detention for another two weeks and ordered him to be released on bail of 10,000 rupees (90 dollars).
Court officials said his case would be heard in July.
Dozens of journalists protested outside the magistrate's court, complaining that Rupasinghe was a victim of police persecution.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and several other rights groups have criticised the government for its handling of the case and called for the editor's immediate release.

Paris-based Reporters without Borders said government efforts to silence pro-opposition journalists were "outrageous and unacceptable".

A cartoonist, Prageeth Eknelygoda, has been missing since January last year, and the website's chief editor is now living in Europe after receiving death threats.
The arson attack on the website's office on January 31 followed a similar attack on a private television station in Colombo last July.

A total of 17 journalists and media employees have been killed in Sri Lanka in the past decade.

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