By Colombo Telegraph –
Major General Prasad Samarasinghe the former Military Spokesman and Director, Directorate of Media in the Army has provided valuable information to the US and contradicted government’s official versions, according to a cable sent by the US Embassy Colombo. Major General Samarasinghe who is also the Chief Signal Officer (CSO) of the Army and Chief Controller, Centre for Research and Development at Ministry of Defence. He has also been the Commander for three separate Brigades in Jaffna, Wanni and Trincomalee, Colonel General Staff, 22 Division Headquarters, Trincomalee, Colonel General Staff, Directorate of Operations, Army Headquarters, Assistant Military Secretary, Army Headquarters and the Centre Commandant, Sri Lanka Signal Corps. He previously served as the military spokesman to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London on a diplomatic posting.
The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable is classified as “SECRET” and discuses Sri Lanka’s problem of political abductions and abductions-for-ransom. The cable was written by the Charge d’Affaires, James R. Moore.
The cable, dated July 6,2007, updated the Secretary of State on Sri Lanka’s issue of abductions and asked strictly protect Military Spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe as their source. Samarasinghe was described as a political insider within the Rajapaksa administration.
The Charge d’Affaires wrote “Despite the GSL’s efforts to tout arrests of alleged abductors, critics and some government insiders claim that there is little genuine connection between the abductions and those that the Government has arrested. Military Spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe (strictly protect), a political insider within the Rajapaksa administration, told us that the arrest on June 26 of the five alleged abductors working with Gajanayake was political retribution against those thought to be disloyal to the Rajapaksa administration. Samarasinghe further alleged that the GSL felt compelled to demonstrate concrete examples of progress on abductions to appease the international community.”
Below we give the relevant part of the cable;
VZCZCXRO4601 OO RUEHBI RUEHLMC DE RUEHLM #0959/01 1870735 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 060735Z JUL 07 FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6415 INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0269 RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7250 RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 5357 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3892 RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1177 RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 3963 RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 1163 RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3049 RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 7843 RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5498 RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0301 RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION PRIORITY RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2191 RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000959 SIPDIS SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS AND PM MCC FOR D NASSIRY AND E BURKE E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/02/2017 TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CE SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: GOVERNMENT TAKES STEPS TO ADDRESS ABDUCTIONS REF: A. COLOMBO 899 ¶B. COLOMBO 463 ¶C. COLOMBO 844 ¶D. COLOMBO 561 ¶E. COLOMBO 861 ¶F. COLOMBO 809 Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, James R. Moore, for reasons 1.4(b,d). ¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) has recently made several announcements about its efforts to eliminate abductions in Sri Lanka. On July 4 Defense Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella announced the arrest of 10 suspected abductors in the GSL's efforts to eliminate abductions-for-ransom. On June 21 the GSL arrested N. Gajanayake (ref A), a suspected abductions ring-leader, and on June 26, the police arrested five other alleged abductors thought to be working with Gajanayake, bringing the total number arrested to 16. Critics of the administration allege that there is little connection between those arrested and the rash of abductions-for-ransom, charging instead that the GSL is arresting scapegoats to appease the international community. However, in addition to arrests, the GSL has established a "help center" to assist family members who wish to file a "missing person" report. Minister Rajitha Senaratne, one of a five-member team appointed to oversee the new center, said that he is committed to providing a level of transparency to the GSL's investigations while shielding civilians afraid to file claims against military or police forces. The GSL on June 29 publicly released some of its findings after looking into a list of alleged disappearances provided by the Ambassador. While the Embassy welcomes the GSL's efforts to investigate the whereabouts of those on the Ambassador's list, we have informed the Government that it should take credit for the list rather than making it appear as though it is acting on behalf of the Embassy. END SUMMARY. GOVERNMENT TOUTS ABDUCTIONS ARRESTS; CRITICS ALLEGE POLITICAL RETRIBUTION ------------------------------------ ¶2. (SBU) During his weekly press briefing on July 4, Defense Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella stated: "One ex-Air Force officer (Gajanayake), a serving airman and four police officers have already been arrested and another 10 suspects comprising four Muslims and six Sinhalese have been arrested in connection with ransom cases." Rambukwella further alleged that police have identified the suspects involved in killing two Red Cross employees on June 1 (ref C), but that they had escaped into territory controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He also stated that the police were working with Interpol to arrest a suspected abductions ring-leader who fled to Italy. Noting that those arrested comprised both Muslim and Sinhalese, Rambukwella dismissed critics' allegations that abductions were targeting Muslims based on their ethnicity. Rambukwella also dismissed allegations that United National Party (UNP) Parliamentarian Lakshman Seneviratne made in Parliament on June 6 alleging that Rambukwella's security detail was involved in abducting a Muslim businessman (ref D). Rambukwella stated that there have been no abductions in Colombo since June 18 and cited this as evidence that the GSL's efforts to bring abductors to justice is working. ¶3. (S) Despite the GSL's efforts to tout arrests of alleged abductors, critics and some government insiders claim that there is little genuine connection between the abductions and those that the Government has arrested. Military Spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe (strictly protect), a political insider COLOMBO 00000959 002 OF 003 within the Rajapaksa administration, told us that the arrest on June 26 of the five alleged abductors working with Gajanayake was political retribution against those thought to be disloyal to the Rajapaksa administration. Samarasinghe further alleged that the GSL felt compelled to demonstrate concrete examples of progress on abductions to appease the international community. MOORE