24 November, 2020

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Iqbal Athas – Journalist Who Exposed MiG Deal Turns Gota Propagandist

Inexplicably the journalist that first exposed the 2006 MiG-27 deal, Iqbal Athas has turned propagandist for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa even after he recalled the horrific threats to his life and being forced to flee Sri Lanka as a result of exposing the shady aircraft purchase as recently as January this year.

Iqbal Athas

In 2006 Iqbal Athas exposed the irregular procurement in the Sunday Times causing ripples in the defence establishment then headed by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. By his own admission in a speech made at a public forum in January 2019 the senior Sunday Times Journalist said that the FCID had commenced its investigation into the 2006 MiG 27 procurement by the Sri Lankan Government, based on his own initial statement to the newly established police division with a mandate to investigate financial crimes and corruption. In his speech in January the former defence reporter spoke at length about how the defence ministry then led by Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the state media called him a traitor and explained how he had to flee the country overnight on a tip of shortly before Lasantha Wickrematunge the editor of the Sunday Leader who followed up the MiG deal story was murdered.

“There was more disturbing news just two weeks before Lasantha Wickrematunge was murdered. A very highly placed source asked me to get out of the house that very night. I flew to Thailand. I had spent long stints there living in an apartment cooking food, washing clothes and working online. The next morning, my driver who was alerted, saw a man with an oversized bush shirt moving outside my house in a motorcycle. When there was strong blowing, the bottom part of the shirt went up. There was a pistol on his waist. The driver noted the registration number. I checked it on a secure phone from Bangkok. The registration plate belonged to a lorry.

When the so-called Yahapalanaya government came to power, they set up the Financial Crimes Investgation Division (FCID). I made a statement to them in early 2015 and investigations began,” Athas said during his speech at the Kadirgamar Institute earlier this year. He also spoke of how crowds were mobilized to protest outside his house, with some of them demanding his arrest.

But in his current political columns featuring weekly in the Sunday Times, long considered the newspaper of record in Sri Lanka, Athas who authors the column as the newspaper’s political editor fawns over the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration almost outshining the state controlled newspapers in heaping praise on the new President and harshly criticizing the previous Government and its failures. This week the column went so far as to “advise” the Government that the failure to control the prices of essential items that have skyrocketed in recent weeks could result in the public mood turning against the President and his new Government. The column hastens to add that the price hikes had occurred through no fault of President Gotabaya. The senior journalist in penning his column also heaps criticism on Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s critics and political opponents making blatant accusations with little or no basis about grand conspiracies to discredit his new hero’s Government.

Athas who was strongly defended by media rights groups and international NGOs when his life was in danger from the Rajapaksa Government in 2007-2009 has also recently been disgustingly critical of NGOs and civil activists referring to them as “NGO wallahs” and accusing them of working to discredit Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Government in order to ensure they keep getting donor funding.

Long time readers of the Sunday Times political column have been stunned about the position the newspaper has taken week after week since Gotabaya’s election as President. “There’s no information in the Times political column anymore. The columnist is just pushing a line and lately the line is entirely pro-Government. It is quite odd. Perhaps like the Times no longer feels safe enough to criticize the Government,” said one long time reader of the ST political column. It is unclear if the position is fully backed by Sunday Times Editor Sinha Ratnatunga whose editorials have taken principled positions that do not reflect the sycophancy of the large spread that is published alongside. Ratnatunga also continues to publish senior lawyer and columnist Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena’s articles which have remained strongly critical of high handed moves by the new administration and its attempts to dismantle state systems for political gain. Sources told Colombo Telegraph that Athas has cultivated a strong personal friendship with PC MM Ali Sabry the head of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s team of lawyers and another Muslim politician strongly aligned to Gotabaya.

Political observers wondered whether the journalist was adopting a particularly sycophantic writing style since Gotabaya Rajapaksa took office as President, even though he appeared to be aligned with the former Defence Secretary for months before, in order to ensure the new political administration does not turn Athas for being the first to expose the infamous “MiG-deal”. “It might be fear driving Athas’ latest drift. Difficult to imagine that the man who was once trying to hunt him down had become a saint overnight,” said a senior journalist in Colombo familiar with the Sunday Times journalist ordeal over his MiG deal reporting. (By Janakie Mediwake)

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Latest comments

  • 11
    34

    Comments here seem mostly demented, convoluted, confused, bewildered and by dreadfully disappointed bemoaning losers ! Get a life. As for the MIG deal it may have been a perfectly OK deal but ppl looking to discredit the govt, like they do every day, could have cooked up a corrupion allegation Who knows – even yahapalanaya could not find anything wrong, apart from bringing it up in an accusative tone !

    • 24
      7

      WE DONT HAVE GOOD AND INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS in SRILANKA ?
      .
      That is provable fact.
      :
      They are very cheap.
      :
      Derana AND HIRU TV networks are the best examples.
      :
      And above all these Journalists are all SINHALESE.

      Now or later they would easily get caught by the tricks being applied by HAMBANTOTA rascals, uncultured politicians.
      :
      The DAY hambantota RASCALS would have been BOMBED down, only we can see a better FREE srilanka:

      • 5
        4

        LOL

        You at least got yourself the correct name. DESPERATE.

        Live up to your name boy.

        • 4
          3

          One another back licker who knows nothing but to shoot the messager ?

          Sam, what do you get from deal ballige puthas ?

    • 15
      6

      Do any srilanken JOURNOS yet today have BALLS to expose lot more high crimes, committed by RAJAPAKSHE clan over the years, also during GOOD GOVERNANCE govt ?

      No all SO CALLED LANKEN Journos incl. that Malinda Senviratne and SELF Proclaimed POLITICAL back licker DAYAN baluthilaka are all no different.
      :
      These men would not grasp it, but just do it. Not even domestic DOGs would behave so. But that is the truth about LANKEN – so called JOURNALISTS.
      .
      Not just SRILANKEN sinhala JOURNOS but also MUSLIM AND TAMIL behave the same.
      :
      COME with facts, to prove that there are INDEPENDNET true journos in SL? We the SRILANKENS living in EUROPE will offer you 10 000 Dollars.
      Thank you.
      Greetings to all those who share the truths on CT platform
      Happy NEW Year 2020.
      Let s WORK TOGETHER to BRING Rajpakshe Racals to COURTs.

    • 3
      2

      Perfectly said!

  • 20
    3

    HOw shameful for a respected writer to become a slave for money, or is it for fear?

    • 15
      1

      If it is fear, just leave the pen and get lost!! What a disgrace Athas has become. There is no need for white van abduction and kill–Athas has committed suicide!!!!!!

    • 8
      2

      Buddist,
      It is possible that Iqbal’s sudden metamorphism could be a sign of huge impending danger SL independent media could face soon! I say this b’cos of what Derana did just few weeks ahead of the election. Derana runs two blogs, one for daily hot news and the other for business news. The carrier of business news still stay unchanged but the hot news career was changed suddenly without giving any explanation. I used to comment on both but, stop commenting to Hot News as soon as the change. I still don’t know why Derana change only one. May be they wanted cut off all opinions unfavorable to GoRa.

      But why changed only one when I could have posted my comments onto the other as well? My real fear was that Derana also had a sinister intention of tracing ID s of ant-GoRa activists in order to silence them. Isn’t possible that Iqbal’s case is part of the same plan? If so, is there a grand scheme to turn all the independent media GoRa friendly? A fantastic way to control media & free thinking without “White Vans”!

      Better watch out; emerging signs look extremely detrimental to media freedom & the right to infor!

    • 1
      0

      Respected did you say??

  • 1
    0

    The comments by most indicate the facts of the case, Lets wait and see

  • 19
    2

    I stopped buying the Sunday Times months ago because of the crap in the Political Column. Athas was CNN correspondent during the war. When the peace accord was signed in 2002 his income source dried up as there were no war stories to file. He then started making an issue in the Sunday Times of every cease fire violation by the LTTE no matter how trivial it was. He was trying to rouse CBK to abrogate the CFA and start the war again so that he could then file reports and earn some money.

  • 12
    1

    So what is news CT?
    /
    He has just practiced the community standard of facing the side the ‘thoppiya’ has turned.
    \
    Nothing surprising in tis. Wait for Marrikkar to join the Pohottuwa government.

    • 11
      1

      Sinhalaya modaya kavum kanna sooraya was said by none other than Anagarika Dharmapala.

  • 12
    2

    Athas is not true to his pen fear psychosis has gripped him, and he is trying to save his life by doing a 360degree turn .

  • 18
    4

    Iqbal Aththas has become a DBS Jayaraj. Kept Journalists.

    • 7
      2

      It is more Honourable for Iqbal Athas to give up Journalism and sit on the Pavement in Fort with a Till, as many would contribute every day.

  • 17
    2

    I thought only politicians had no class and quality. Now it looks like journalists too are of the same low breed

  • 19
    1

    Political opportunism, journalistic opportunism, and judiciary opportunism has become norm in today’s world. This is the easiest way to populism, fundamentalism, racisim and religionism.With the failure of globalism, dictatorship is an emerging trend against democracy. It is true the previous Ranil- Sirisena governments betrayal and their inability to face the threat of Sinhalese Buddhist Fundamentalism that gave a high ground for Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism. Today in every corner of journalism Buddhist Monks took control over news. It is now Buddhist Fundamentalist Monks are directing the law and order, judiciary and government. It is the Monks who directed the arrest of Samphika, Rajitha and now proposed to arrest Richard Badiudeen, Chandrika and probably next Sumanthiran and Sampanthan.It is the choice of majority of Sinhala Buddhists which is said as democracy. In other words, democracy has provided legal mandate to do whatever the majority ask to do.

  • 21
    6

    Gothas reign of TERROR has begun

    Ler us look at the evidence

    1) Opposition MPs are being taken in White Vans ending up in ICU
    2) Judges have stopped delivering Justice
    3) Journalists have either been bought or Silenced.

    Only external forces such as India ( the foot Soldier who can enforce) the UN and the Western Countries can save Sri Lanka from anarchy . It is up to people like Sarah De Alwis , Jehan Perera , Ameer Ali and mebers of the Civil Society to make representation to all these externl forces. It may be difficult for those who are insie the Country but they can do it Clandestinely.

    RW was wrong to hand over power to MR without an election. Let us hope that the elections in March for PM can bring in a Coalition just like in the US. Senate controlled by Republican and the Congress controlled by Democrats to keep a check on abuse of Power by Gotha . There is hope as according to Charles the Maths Genius only 41% voted for a CRIMINAL

  • 0
    2

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  • 0
    2

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

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  • 8
    14

    If CT can go hell bent on GR, mostly without a base, whats wrong with Athas to write, as of CT’s POV, pro-GR articles? Obviously CT and all the NGO wallahs are upset about the fall of their darling, the yahapalana gang. But people are more sensible to the reality than CT and its like minded allies.

    • 5
      1

      Max,
      .
      First get your smeared away by taking good shower. You are so stinky.

      You would never see it right even if you sound to be bit different to those ratathanakola eaters that brought them back.

      Max- do you have problems within your circles ? Do they respect you at all ?

  • 7
    0

    The majority of the Sri Lankan journalists are mot honest. They change colors due to fear and at times to get political favors. Journalists like Tarzie Vittcaahi may not exist in the future

    • 4
      1

      Pon,
      it is like searching for mustard from a house that experieced no death.
      :
      It is the insufficient education in journalism that brought JOURNALIST carrier to that lower levels.
      :
      Just listen to those Journos the manner they raise questions. And the the quality of the questions. Most of them are scared of raising direct questions to Rajapakshe facists. And as if they are servile to Rajapakshes, they do whatever the Rajapakshes expect them to do. why ?
      That means lanken journos are rajaakshe biased ones right ?

  • 1
    0

    D.P. Thanks for your input. Your comment: “the public perception seems to “DEFY” (emphasis by me) the constitutional provisions on power of presidency”. I do not agree, because that “Public Perception” must not “Defy” the Constitutional provisions, as it could lead to a “Dictatorship” and “Anarchy”. You are correct, in saying that the ” PM is willing to accept president’s leadership unless challenged in the SC”. That itself shows, how the Constitution has been overlooked. by the sitting PM and his Government. Now, that “Willing Acceptance” has lead to another “Coalition”? Perhaps. Anyway, as things are rolling on, we see this “Presidential” position is been “Viewed” and “Operational” as a “One Man Show” with a “Courtier” of chosen personnel. That, I do not see as a healthy situation. Already, the cry for the abolition of the “19th A” has been launched by the President, the reason been given is : “it obstruct Governing.”. Doesn’t that give you a “SIGNAL”? To: Sinhala_Man: I did not want to comment on that article you mentioned, as it related to some school administrative affairs. To all at CT. Wish All a Happy New Year and the next Decade starting with 2020.

  • 11
    1

    Iqbal Athas has positioned his cap to suit the present political climate.

    • 3
      1

      If that is true, then he should reveal lot more about MIG flight purchase deal.

      Now Gotler and his backlickers are very active any silly court investigations that were once finalized by state bodies.
      So why not they are after proper investigations
      – Thadjudeen death
      -Eknaeligoda Death
      – Lasantha murder
      etc

  • 2
    2

    Well known that journalist Iqubal Attas having different views time to time.
    Having right to see the reality of facts on ground level. I do not think Iqubal should NOT be corner by disregards of this services to Journalism
    Look at world changing there is position of enemies of Super-power that shifting according to motion , movement and change nature of order of Global political Economic and Social take into account.
    The respect different views and an opinions of Journalism and their work.
    Ongoing Globe Democratic order has to go long way to rectification of put into
    that narrow the gap between Freedom and change Political Economic and Social in the World.

  • 6
    1

    Iqbal Athas was the same as he was. Always wanted to please ‘Majority’, just for survival!!

  • 1
    1

    Remember Dr Nandasana recently promised us that he would empower our natural intelligent with artificial intelligent?

    Did he already get an AI report saying that he should first learn to use people like IA to work for him before turning to AI or not?

  • 3
    0

    Maybe his love for mutton(goat)is just too much for him.

  • 2
    0

    Can’t blame Iqbal.How to resist mutton biriyani

  • 2
    0

    Was a good newsman. Alas, Hedda Chopper always was, currently is, and will always be a journo with no principles.

  • 0
    0

    So So. Another good jouno is either kidnapped or killed. Kishali we are worried about you?‍♂️

  • 0
    0

    It is in their genes to turn .Opportunism has served some communities better than others .Sad but true.History proves this time and time again

  • 0
    1

    Iqbal Athas and Lasantha Traitors and licked the asses of LTTE. These two fucking bastards dead body should cut into 4 pieces and hang four corners of Sri Lanka

  • 0
    3

    Patriotic people of Sri Lanka should avoid watching SIRASA TV, avoid Tamil’s Companies Products, Avoids buying goods from Tamil owners because they are Terrorists Oriented people. Funding for Terrorists (they funded heavily to LTTE, this is a well-known secret also)This is the only way to safeguard the Sinhala Aryan Country. Tamils and Muslims are a wealth robbers of Sinhala Aryans Country Sri Lanka. Sinhalese will fuck them nicely by Ballot Papers. Our king Gota did by Bullets and now he will do with the help of Ballot Papers, wait and see

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