By Colombo Telegraph –
The United States calls for an end to the harassment of these and all other journalists and believes that an uncensored and independent media available to all citizens is an indispensable part of any vibrant democracy, the US Embassy in Sri Lanka said in a statement expressing concern over media harassment following yesterday’s raid on the offices of news websites Sri Lanka Mirror and Sri Lanka X News by Sri Lankan law enforcement.
Issuing a statement a short while ago, the US Embassy said that it was closely following the case of the Sri Lanka Mirror and Lankaxnews, including the arrest of nine individuals associated with those websites.
“We have raised on several occasions our deep concern over efforts to suppress independent news media, including the blocking of news websites, intimidation, and disappearances of journalists,” the Embassy statement said.
The nine Sri Lanka Mirror staffers arrested by the CID yesterday were released on police bail earlier today after being produced before the Colombo Magistrate. Their court date has been set for July 6.
The website staffers were arrested following a raid by the CID on the Sri Lanka Mirror and Sri Lanka X News website offices in Kotte last afternoon. The CID sealed the offices and seized computers at the premises.
Meanwhile the Defence Ministry in a statement on its website said that the CID had sealed the offices of websites that had been involved in propagating false and unethical news on Sri Lanka were being operated from.
“These two websites were continuously involved in publishing false and unethical news about celebrities and popular personalities, misleading the international and local communities,” the Defence Ministry said.
“Some websites, ignoring the Supreme Court order, are trying to bring disrepute and shame on the country and the people by propagating false and distorted news. The two websites have operated disregarding a legal order issued by the highest legal body. The CID officials raided the office after a court order and have found that these two websites were directly engaged in propagating false and distorted news,” it added.