By The Economist –
SRI LANKA’s powerful defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, seemed to threaten a senior newspaper editor with death in a profanity-strewn outburst. The cause for his rage was that she called to check whether the state-run national airline had changed aircraft for a scheduled flight from Switzerland. The cause for that switch may have been—or so the editor wished to learn—for Mr Rajapaksa’s niece’s pilot-boyfriend to be allowed to fly an aeroplane which was to deliver a puppy from Europe to the defence secretary’s wife.
Frederica Jansz, the editor of The Sunday Leader, reported that Mr Rajapaksa, who is the younger brother of Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, “went berserk” when she rang him. He said would “sue [her] fucking newspaper” if she wrote “any bloody word about this”. He also barked that he was “not afraid of the bloody courts”.
In a second telephone conversation, Mr Rajapaksa elaborated. He called Mrs Jansz “a fucking shit, a pig who eats shit”. “Shit, shit, shit journalists!” he ranted.
Ninety percent of the people in this country hate you! They hate you! You come for a function where I am and I will tell people this is the editor of The Sunday Leader and 90% there will show that they hate you.
“People will kill you! People hate you! They will kill you!” he shouted next. As it happens, Ms Jansz took over the newspaper after its founding editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge, was murdered in broad daylight in 2009. The case remains unsolved. When she questioned whether she would be killed on his directive, the defence secretary seemed to prevaricate. “What? No. Not mine. But they will kill you, you dirty fucking shit journalist.”