Mobitel a fully owned subsidiary of Sri Lanka Telecom and headed by President Maithripala Sirisena’s brother Pallewatta Gamaralalage Kumarasinghe Sirisena, unblocked the website www.mahinda.info belonging to the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that Mobitel had blocked earlier last Friday.
The website is run by the Mahinda Rajapaksa Information Center.
Sources close to the newly appointed Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando said that the Minister had received a colossal number of calls yesterday regarding this blockage. Colombo Telegraph is unaware if the Minister intervened to have the website unblocked. The website’s blockage was removed late last night around 8. 15, shortly after the Minister was informed. However Colombo Telegraph failed to obtain a quote from Minister Fernando as several calls made to him proved to be futile.
Meanwhile officials from the Mahinda Rajapaksa Information Center had published a story airing their woes regarding the periodically blocking the website faced and continues to do so since last Friday; “Prior to the General Elections we were experiencing a similar problem and when we were going to take legal action regarding this matter, Mobitel then unblocked the website. However the blockade continued a few days later and then we informed the Elections Commissioner. The website was unblocked once again and again blocked. However once Colombo Telegraph carried the story yesterday, it was unblocked yet again last night.”
Yesterday officials of the Mahinda Rajapaksa Information Center called the Mobitel hotline and recorded the conversation with their call center agent.
The call center staff member of Mobitel stated that under an order received from the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission the website had been blocked.
The sound track is found below;
President Maithripala Sirisena gave a specific order to lift direct online censorship as one of his first acts in power. Websites can be “prohibited or be subject to supervision and control” under S.69 of the Sri Lanka Telecommunications Act 1991 – but only under ministerial authority, and under a publicly announced order.
No such order was made to replace the directive issued by President Sirisena in January.
Photo – screenshot yesterday before being unblocked;
Photo – screenshot yesterday after being unblocked;