19 September, 2018

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WikiLeaks: Poaddala Jayantha has been a key contact for the Embassy

Poddala was kidnapped on a Colombo street. During the couple of hours he was in captivity, he was tortured and then dumped along a road.

WikiLeaks: Poaddala Jayantha has been a key contact for the Embassy, he was attacked and seeking assistance

By Colombo Telegraph –

“Poddala is well-known to the Embassy, and has been a key contact for PAS for years. PAO has remained in close contact with Poddala about the increasing threats, including visiting him in the hospital after he was attacked and seeking DRL assistance for him under the Human Rights Defenders Fund.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The Colombo Telegraph found the leaked cable from the WikiLeak database. The cable is classified as “SECRET” and discuses the media suppression situation after winning the war against LTTE , attack and the threats faced by the President of the Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association, Poddala Jayantha. The cable was written on September 1, 2009 by the Charge D’Affaires Valerie C. Fowler.

The Charge D’Affaires wrote “Beginning on May 27, 2009, the Sri Lankan press reported widely comments made by Army Commander Fonseka and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jayantha Wickramaratne. Both stated that LTTE cadres now in custody had disclosed the names of journalists who were funded by the LTTE. General Fonseka claimed that most of these journalists were Sinhalese, some were members of organizations advocating greater media freedom, and some had secret meetings with the LTTE. Both Fonseka and Wickramaratne labeled the journalists as traitors and said that action would be taken against them. The state-owned television station ITN carried a report on the Inspector General’s comments on its May 28th broadcast. While ITN reported the Inspector General’s remarks, it broadcast images of protests, meetings, and gatherings of media trade unions and advocacy organizations. The camera zoomed in on the faces of individual members and leaders of those groups, including Poddala. On May 29, 2009, Poddala and two other media advocates met with PAO and expressed fears for their safety following the broadcast. In particular, they were worried that statements by the Army Commander and the IGP would engender a new wave of violence against journalists by ultranationalist gangs and thugs.”

Valerie C. Fowler wrote “On June 1, 2009, Poddala was kidnapped on a Colombo street. During the couple of hours he was in captivity, he was tortured and then dumped along a road. He suffered multiple fractures to his leg, a severe burn on his foot, internal injuries in abdomen, and cuts and bruises on his head. As a way to further humiliate him, his head and beard were shaved and hair stuck in his mouth to muffle his screams. According to Poddala, before the abductors left him on the roadside, they told him, ‘if you ever work in Sri Lanka again, we will kill you and your family.’

“On October 3, 2009 he again received threats from unknown callers. The threats led Poddala to flee the country, this time with his family. Post has endeavored to assist Poddala through the DRL Human Rights Defenders Fund.” she further wrote.

Read the cable below for further details; (Biodata edited by Colombo Telegraph)

Related news; WikiLeaks: Fonseka and IGP labelled journalists as traitors – Four journalists came to Embassy

VZCZCXYZ0005
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #1069/01 3290824
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 250824Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0833
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 3983
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 7366
S E C R E T COLOMBO 001069

SIPDIS

KATHMANDU FOR REFCOORD MWEINBERG
BANGKOK FOR REFCOORD TSCHERER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/08/2019
TAGS: PHUM PREF SCUL CE
SUBJECT: EMBASSY COLOMBO P-1 REQUEST

REF: COLOMBO 596

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES VALERIE C. FOWLER.  REASONS: 1.4 (B, D
)

1.   (SBU) This is an action request for PRM,s Admissions
Office.

2.  (SBU)  SUMMARY AND ACTION REQUEST: Post requests access
to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for a Sri
Lankan national well-known to the Embassy Public Affairs
Section who is planning to flee the country within days.
Poddala Jayantha has faced increasing threats and attacks in
his position as a leading journalist and advocate for media
freedom.  In light of a violent June 1 attack which
necessitated his surgery and hospitalization (Ref A) and
subsequent threats, Post believes he faces a well-founded
fear of persecution.  Poddala is well-known to the Embassy,
and has been a key contact for PAS for years.  PAO has
remained in close contact with Poddala about the increasing
threats, including visiting him in the hospital after he was
attacked and seeking DRL assistance for him under the Human
Rights Defenders Fund. Poddala will flee Sri Lanka to a
country in Asia which does not provide asylum;  Post requests
his consideration under the USRAP.  END SUMMARY.

3.  (C) Basic biodata for Poddala and dependents follow:

Principal Applicant:  ATTOTAGE Prema Jayantha
AKA: PODDALA Jayantha
Date of Birth:  xx xx xxxx
Place of Birth:  xxxxxxxSri Lanka
Nationality:  Sri Lankan
Gender:  Male

Name:  xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx
Relationship to PA: Wife

Date of Birth:  xx xx xxxx
Place of Birth:  xxxxxxx, Sri Lanka
Nationality:  Sri Lankan
Gender:  Female

Name:  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Relationship to PA: Daughter
Date of Birth:  xx xx xxxx
Place of Birth:  xxxxxxxxx Sri Lanka
Nationality:  Sri Lankan
Gender:  Female

BACKGROUND
----------

4.   (SBU) Poddala has been one of Sri Lanka's leading
advocates for greater media freedom.  He is the President of
the Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association and a member of
the Free Media Movement.  He has organized numerous public
demonstrations demanding greater rights and protection for
the media and has won several awards from media advocacy
groups for his work. Over the past several years, Poddala
received numerous threats stemming from his media advocacy
work, ending with a violent attack against him on June 1,
2009. In September 2009 he was elected by his peers to be
President of the Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association.
Since his election, threats have continued.

5.  (C) In May 2008, Poddala and a colleague were summoned by
Secretary of Defense (and brother of the President) Gotabaya
Rajapaksa, and reprimanded over a protest campaign organized
by five Sri Lankan media organizations against the abduction
and assault of another Sri Lankan journalist.  The Secretary
of Defense told them that if both journalists continued
criticizing the military, the Government couldn't prevent
actions being taken against them by groups or individuals who
"revere" Army Commander Fonseka.

6.  (C) According to Poddala, following the January 2009
murder of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickremantunge,
threats against him intensified.  He left the country for one
month.  He returned to Sri Lanka due to concerns for his
family, who had remained in Sri Lanka.

7.  (C) Beginning on May 27, 2009, the Sri Lankan press
reported widely comments made by Army Commander Fonseka and
the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jayantha Wickramaratne.
 Both stated that LTTE cadres now in custody had disclosed
the names of journalists who were funded by the LTTE. General
Fonseka claimed that most of these journalists were
Sinhalese, some were members of organizations advocating
greater media freedom, and some had secret meetings with the
LTTE. Both Fonseka and Wickramaratne labeled the journalists
as traitors and said that action would be taken against them.
 The state-owned television station ITN carried a report on
the Inspector General's comments on its May 28th broadcast.
While ITN reported the Inspector General's remarks, it
broadcast images of protests, meetings, and gatherings of
media trade unions and advocacy organizations. The camera
zoomed in on the faces of individual members and leaders of
those groups, including Poddala.  On May 29, 2009, Poddala
and two other media advocates met with PAO and expressed
fears for their safety following the broadcast. In
particular, they were worried that statements by the Army
Commander and the IGP would engender a new wave of violence
against journalists by ultranationalist gangs and thugs.

8.  (SBU)  On June 1, 2009, Poddala was kidnapped on a
Colombo street.  During the couple of hours he was in
captivity, he was tortured and then dumped along a road.  He
suffered multiple fractures to his leg, a severe burn on his
foot, internal injuries in his abdomen, and cuts and bruises
on his head.  As a way to further humiliate him, his head and
beard were shaved and hair stuck in his mouth to muffle his
screams.  According to Poddala, before the abductors left him
on the roadside, they told him, "if you ever work in Sri
Lanka again, we will kill you and your family."  He required
surgery on June 3 and was hospitalized for weeks; PAO visited
Poddala during his hospital stay.

9.  (C) On June 2, following the attack on Poddala, former
CDA Moore spoke with Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa.
Charge expressed his concern at the most recent assault on a
journalist.  Echoing Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,s warnings to the
journalists a year prior, Basil responded that "the public"
is angry and the government could not control these passions.

10.   (C)  In September 2009, Poddala was elected by his
peers to be President of the Sri Lanka Working Journalist
Association, and he attended the opening of the new offices
of the SLWJA.  The English and Sinhala press covered the
event.  On October 3, 2009 he again received threats from
unknown callers.  The threats led Poddala to flee the
country, this time with his family.  Post has endeavored to
assist Poddala through the DRL Human Rights Defenders Fund.

11.  (SBU) In light of the violence and escalating threats
Poddala has faced as a leading media advocate in Sri Lanka,
Post requests his access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions
Program. The Regional Refugee Coordinator concurs with this
request. While the current PAO at post has come to know
Poddala through the threats and violence he has faced,
Poddala has been a leading journalist and key Embassy contact
for years.  Post appreciates PRM/A,s prompt consideration of
this request.
FOWLER
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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    I didn’t have any contacts with Us embassy. these are wrong information

    • 0
      0

      So, MR Poddala Jayantha, do you think you can fool us? why the hell US Embassy Colombo need to lie/mislead/ fool US state department? can you explain it? they you were a Embassy contact for years?

    • 0
      0

      Are you kidding Poddala Jayantha? are u saying us US is kidding US? I like Colombo Telegraph motto ” IN JOURNALISM TRUTH IS A PROCESS”

    • 0
      0

      Who is being stupid here. These guys divulge lies for money offered by US gov. In tern, US gov acts against SL. I won’t regret this guy being hacked. Traitor.

  • 0
    0

    The other cable says you were in SLFP media unit. see ; “Basil expressed some sympathy for Podalla, noting that he previously worked in the media unit of the Sri Lankan Freedom Party.” what is this all about? are you deny this too?

    • 0
      0

      its call double game! :) :) :) :) Colombo Telegraph, what about other man? Balasooriya or Balawardena? Kondepandapu cheena?

      • 0
        0

        Daval Migel raa Daniyels

  • 0
    0

    LOL Poddala, whom are you trying to kid ……Denial is not a truth. Its only a political posture for someone who is trying to creep back to Sri Lanka and cause further mayhem in our society. Better for you to be in US.

  • 0
    0

    wtf? I’m reading about that gunman in a Santa suit who killed six people and here now US is saying Podda is sock puppet.

  • 0
    0

    So, what is the meaning of ” Key Embassy contact” ? a spy? a paid agent? I think US Embassy should clarify this?

  • 0
    0

    Poddala Jayantha had a two jobs. :)

  • 0
    0

    oh dear!!

  • 0
    0

    this shows the real stature of the journalists. they are at the pay role of unknown hands. they talk about ethics of politicians and what not. be an example to others before you point your finger to others.

  • 0
    0

    These so called “Journalists” think they are above all the laws and can make or breaks goverments (specially in Sri Lanka). They should understand that era has gone forever…This Poddala buger should worship SF & Gota for atleast letting him live. Sunanda Deshapriya, Thissanayagam is no exeption, all these guys work for diferent foreign untis. Just because some one works for Lakehouse, ITN or write some thing on a website, they do not become JOURNALISTS.. It like when someone works for a hospital (may be cleark or a cheff, cleaner), that person dosent become a DOCTOR.

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