28 October, 2021

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Prisons Dept Defies Magistrate’s Bail Order As Gota’s Social Media Crackdown Intensifies 

Prison authorities have refused to release Rajiv Yasiru Kuruwitage Mathew despite a bail order by Colombo Chief Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala, on Wednesday (9), Colombo Telegraph learns.

Kuruwitage’s lawyers have been informed by prison authorities that their client will not be released from remand despite the bail order, until he undergoes a PCR test on Thursday (10) and results of that test are received. This process could take several days, especially for incarcerated persons.

Lawyers told Colombo Telegraph that if prison officials could not unilaterally decide to retain a person in custody who has been granted a bail order by a court of law, that would be tantamount to being an illegal detention. However health authorities could decide whether to put that person in quarantine or conduct medical testing, the lawyers explained.

Despite a request by the CID that Kuruwitage should be remanded further until they can frame fresh charges against him, the Chief Magistrate rejected the request and released the young man on bail. Kuruwitage was arrested by the CID on Monday June 7 without a warrant, in connection with a press release he issued regarding a cyber attack on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s website.

The CID case against Kuruwitage unravelled in court, when lawyers for the suspect pointed out that he could not be charged under the sections of the Computer Crimes Act the police had cited in its B report, since he had not hacked government information systems.

The Chief Magistrate asked the CID if Kuruwitage had hacked into government information systems and obtained information, but the police informed court that no such information had been leaked. The CID could reply when the Magistrate asked if Kuruwitage had aided or abetted such an act, to which the CID had no reply. The Magistrate then asked the CID on what basis the arrest had been made.

The CID officers asked the court to hold Kuruwitage in remand until they could file new charges against him under a different law.

The Chief Magistrate rejected this request and released Yasiru Kuruwitage on bail of Rs 100,000. The magistrate also advised Kuruwitage to exercise his right to expression responsibly, without causing social disruption.

However, despite the bail order, Kuruwitage remains in custody with prison officials refusing to honour the court order until the PCR testing process was complete.

Attorney at Law Thishya Weragoda and a team of lawyers appeared for Kuruwitage.

Attorney Weragoda told local news stations that Kuruwitage’s mobile phone and computer had been seized by the CID illegally. No receipt had been provided for the seizure, he said. This was a requirement under the law, Weragoda pointed out. “People cannot be arrested on someone’s whims, there are laws in this country,” the Counsel for Kuruwitage charged.

Watch: [Time stamp 26:08 – 29:17]

The CID Digital Forensics Division arrested Kuruwitage, a young man styling himself as the chairman of the “Information Technology Society of Sri Lanka”. The CID entered his home and forced him to go back to the police division with them, despite having no documents and no warrant from a court of law for his arrest.

Audio records of what transpired during Kuruwitage’s arrest indicates that the CID was unable to say which provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Sri Lanka the ‘ITSSL Chairman’  had violated with his Facebook post about the cyber attack.

Listen to the audio:

The illegal arrest is part of a systematic crackdown by the authorities targeting social media users, as criticism mounts against the Government online. Another young man was arrested in Kandy over a Facebook post, just hours after the police announced a special CID team would be tasked with “patrolling cyber-space” for so-called fake news.

Activists and lawyers are expressing grave concern that the new police patrols on social media will seek to criminalize legitimate criticism against the Government and have a chilling effect on political dissent. The patrols amount to an infringement on the citizens’ right to free speech, as guaranteed by the constitution, in the guise of criminalizing disinformation, the lawyers argue. It is likely these actions will be challenged in the Supreme Court as clear violations of Article 14 of the constitution that guarantees freedom of expression.

Significantly, the only arrests so far have targeted citizens posting critical remarks about President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government online. The regime has reached monumental levels of unpopularity in a remarkably short space of time, and government policies and officials routinely draw incisive mockery and criticism in online fora.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    0

    I not writing here anything wrong about government or opposition, though pointing out those as what I have taken as my conscious duty. Ranil, after playing games and power politics for 6 months, it is predicted that he is coming back to parliament using the one seat available to UNP, which he knowingly destroyed to evade prosecuting Royals or the paid-up ISIS activists and the ministers associated with that. What is interesting here is almost all media is predicting that he is about to become the PM of the Royal government. In the past, if there was something worst shame for Lankawe politics, it cannot be worse than this. Journalist may go right or wrong, but think about this; isn’t this guy was brought about five years ago as Mr. Clean, through a regime change campaign, to clean the criminal and politics? Even after double, treble checking, media men can go wrong, and we have an obligation to evaluate whatever we read. I am not standing on anything right or wrong. But this appearing in the media is the biggest shame for Lankawe. Nobody, but politicians are solely reasonable for this appearing in media. Remember, further, media is quoting the other UNP factions as the sources of this news. WoW!

    • 0
      1

      “The magistrate also advised Kuruwitage to exercise his right to expression responsibly, without causing social disruption.”
      Good advice from the Magistrate to this guy who poses as an IT expert and has been issuing official looking notifications from his “ITSSL” for a few years now. Even the media have been taken in.
      But even charlatans have rights.
      Still, for a change, Sinhalese are being locked up on nebulous charges . Let the 69 lakhs take note.

  • 12
    0

    Even the judges verdicts are nothing other than headline news,still in custody they will charge him on PTA as mentioned release him with 14.days quantrine at home isolation,the young Sri lankan Muslim still languishing in prison for make poet,KP the arm dealer for LTTE is free bird,what a joke a highly regarded profession telling the one who died journals are 3rd class,then our future prince how he passed his law exam,then the kings siblings beat up the rugby coach……..
    It’s sad and pathetic,that kurunagala fellow let down whole lankans ,it’s one man show 6.9m well done,how he silenced the Harin,

    • 6
      0

      Is a judicial system necessary for Srilanka. The present system may be scrapped and a new system introduced with the President as the head.
      The need for lawyers also may not arise as the laws are not adhered to.

  • 2
    0

    Dear All,
    Well Ladies and Gentlemen, We knew about it as he says from his Past ‘Avatar’, the capability and ability and all 6.9 Million plus walked into it knowing the adversity that would be encountered and elected and the 2/3 majority parliament.
    The only advice I would profer, is that, Think before you shoot (meaning voting for or against)). definitely waste of time thinking and stressing about it after.
    best solution recommended is relax and hope everything would be alright, if not for all, atleast for you and immediate family.
    Selfish thought though, there is no other recourse under the circumstances to alleviate the fear and stress you are experiencing. All the best wishes and outcomes for all.

  • 3
    0

    The disorderly and illegal conduct of the “authorities” are typical of a failed state. I am amazed, as per the report, that Police were mumbling in front of the magistrate. If one submits a “B” report, in which the act performed and thereby what part of the law was violated (what offence was committed) then what is this bravado of an amended charges? My recollection was that in the yesteryear of Queen’s Ceylon, no Police officer worth his salt would do that. If it did happen at that time, the accused is promptly released, the Police officer/s would be hauled for contempt, and disciplinary proceedings would commence against the Police officer/s. We presuppose that the only reason for this is contempt of Herr Gottler, but a lesser mortal may be involved. Irrespective of that if the job is properly done then it is exceedingly difficult to arrest or harass at the behest of the top for no reason. If the magistrate releases the accused on bail, then if the accused has to be held on quarantine until the PCR test results released then it cannot be inside a prison.

  • 2
    0

    They dont want to release him until he gets a PCR test?
    Why? Because those test swabs are coated with small pieces of metallic technology.
    They get inserted into the body through the mouth or nose,
    then are used for weakening a person from inside and make them more vulnerable to
    mind control.
    The inventor of the PCR test himself said that it is useless for identifying viral diseases.
    They murdered him just before this covid scamdemic was created.

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