26 August, 2019

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WikiLeaks:Jansz wants embassy to put more pressure on Gota

By Colombo Telegraph

“When asked whether they thought they needed protection, Jansz and Mushtaq replied that they had been offered the services of a private security firm but requested that the embassy put more pressure on the defense secretary to improve the media environment.” the US Embassy Colombo informed to Washington.

On October 26, 2009 Frederica Jansz and news editor Munza Mushtaq both received hand-written death threats, similar in style to the one Wickrematunga received before his death.

A leaked US diplomatic cable details the media suppression situation in Sri Lanka. The Colombo Telegraph found the cable from WikiLeaks database. The cable written on October 28, 2009 and classified as  “SECRET” by the Deputy Chief of Mission Valerie Fowler.

The US Ambassador to Colombo Patricia A. Butenis wrote “More death threats against Sunday Leader represent a step backwards. The Sunday Leader can be sensational in its reporting and the paper is likely to make the most out of the recent threats. Nevertheless, the threats appear genuine to us and a cause for concern. We will remain in close touch with Jansz and Mushtaq.”

“On October 26, the Sunday Leader, the newspaper formerly edited by journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge who was murdered last January, ran as their headline ‘And Now They Come for Us.’ The accompany article reported that current editor-in-chief Frederica Jansz and news editor Munza Mushtaq both received hand-written death threats, similar in style to the one Wickrematunga received before his death. On October 27, PAO met with Jansz and Mushtaq, who brought copies of the threats and of the letter Wickrematunga had received and explained their suspicion that the letters were from the same person. They have sent the letters to a hand-writing expert for analysis. Janz and Mushtaq believe the threats may be related to a suit brought against them by Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for some critical articles. The editors also complained the paper had been under criticism of late for publishing the findings of a U.S. – based Tamil NGO that the controversial Channel 4 video of alleged execution of Tamils by Sri Lankan soldiers was authentic.”Ambassador Butenis further wrote.

Under the subject “Sri Lanka press freedom issues: some steps forward, others back” the US ambassador details the situation of the cases against ‘Tissainayagam, Jasiharan and Valarmathy’ , the Ministry of Defense instructions to arrest journalists who wrote about serving army officers’ political aspirations and death threats against Sunday Leader.

Read recent death threat to Sunday Leader Editor: If you want to escape you go to Temple Trees – Full text of the threatening letter;  http://colombotelegraph.com/2011/10/28/death-threat-to-sunday-leader-editor-if-you-want-to-escape-you-go-to-temple-trees-full-text-of-the-threatening-letter/

Read the full cable for further details;

VZCZCXRO2397
OO RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #0993/01 3011238
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 281238Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0691
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 1991
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 9027
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 7265
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 5188
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3415
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 5140
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0017
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0675
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4251
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9590
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 6884
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 1349
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 3798
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000993

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/21/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PTER EAID MOPS CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA PRESS FREEDOM ISSUES: SOME STEPS
FORWARD, OTHERS BACK

REF: A. COLOMBO 855
     B. COLOMBO 864

Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION VALERIE C. FOWLER.  REASONS 1.4
(B) AND (D).

 1. (S) SUMMARY: On October 26, the two people arrested as
accomplices in publishing imprisoned journalist
Tissainayagam's "terrorist" articles were released and
apparently acquitted of all charges.  In releasing V.
Jasiharan and Valarmathy Vadivel, the high court judge noted
that the only evidence the prosecution had introduced against
them was the confession by Jasiharan, which there was reason
to doubt was voluntary.  Lawyers for Jasiharan and Vadivel
told diplomatic representatives that Tissainayagam's
attorneys said the presidential secretariat on Monday had
signaled the president was prepared to grant Tissainayagam a
pardon.  It is likely Tissainayagam's lawyers will be in
touch with the attorney general, who is in charge of
negotiating the conditions of a pardon.  Also this week, news
broke about instructions from the Ministry of Defense to
police to arrest journalists who wrote about serving army
officers' political aspirations or activities based on army
regulations prohibiting active military personnel from
participating in political campaigns.  It is widely assumed
the measure is meant to stifle discussion of a potential
presidential candidacy for CHOD Fonseka.  END SUMMARY.
AN IMPORTANT VICTORY
--------------------

2. (SBU) On October 26, the Colombo High Court No. 4
announced the "acquittal" of all charges against V. Jasiharan
and his common-law wife Valarmathy Vadivel, owners of the
press that printed imprisoned journalist J.S. Tissainayagam's
North Eastern Monthly and his partners in the related
website.  (NOTE: Although their release was widely reported
in the press as an "acquittal," lawyers for Jasiharan and
Vadivel explained to us that the judge's oral ruling was
unclear whether the two had been found "not guilty" -- the
American concept of "acquittal" -- or whether the charges
were being dropped for lack of evidence.  The distinction
would have to await issuance of the judge's written opinion.
END NOTE.)  Tissainayagam was first arrested on March 7,
2008, when he went to a police station to inquire about the
arrest of Jasiharan and Vadivel the day before.  The guilty
verdict and sentencing of Tissainayagam were announced on
August 31, 2009 (ref A).

3. (SBU) Jasiharan had been charged under the Prevention of
Terrorism Act (PTA) with attempting to cause racial or
communal disharmony by publishing Tissainayagam's articles.
Vadivel was charged with aiding and abetting her husband.  In
releasing Jasiharan and Vadivel, the judge noted that the
only evidence the prosecution had introduced against them was
the confession by Jasiharan, which there was reason to doubt
was voluntary.  At the same time as the acquittal, Jasiharan
withdrew his fundamental rights counter suit from the Supreme
Court.

4. (C) At an October 27 meeting with diplomatic
representatives, lawyers for Jasiharan and Vadivel, explained
that the acquittal had come about after it became clear that
Jasiharan's confession had been made under duress.  There had
been three medical reports issued that backed up the defense
argument that the confession had been coerced: the first was
prepared at the time of arrest and showed no injuries; the
second was prepared later and indicated injuries; the third
was prepared still later and showed more injuries.  When the
prosecution recognized the direction the judge was leaning,
it signaled it was ready to compromise: the charges would be
withdrawn if Jasiharan agreed to drop his fundamental rights

COLOMBO 00000993  002 OF 003

counter suit from the Supreme Court.  The lawyers mentioned
that in the judge's final oral ruling, it was unclear whether
the charges had been dropped or whether the charge had found
the couple not guilty.  In any case, the judge said he had
seen "no evidence" to back up charges against the couple.
The judge even underscored that in the case of the wife, she
had been charged with "aiding and abetting her husband's
aiding and abetting" of Tissainayagam, which was absurd and,
therefore, there were "absolutely no charges" against her.

5. (C) With their release from prison the focus shifted,
however, from their court case to their personal safety.  The
lawyers said that as long as they were in jail, they were
relatively safe.  (NOTE: This contrasted with the case of
Tissainayagam, whom the lawyers believed was in great danger
even in jail.  END NOTE.)  After their release, however,
there may be people who were interested in doing them harm.
The lawyers said that in the past, they had had a number of
cases of persons released who were later killed.  (NOTE:
While the number of cases has certainly declined since the
end of the war -- we are unaware of any such retribution
killings since at least August, if not earlier -- we continue
to take threats very seriously.  The Germans and British are
exploring asylum options for Jasiharan and Vadivel.  END
NOTE.)

LATEST ON TISSAINAYAGAM
-----------------------

6. (S) On Tissainayagam, the lawyers said they had spoken to
his attorneys and had learned that on Monday the presidential
secretariat had signaled that the president was prepared to
grant Tissainayagam a pardon.  (NOTE: They did not specify
how the signal was sent.  END NOTE.)  They noted that there
was no written law on whether the president could issue a
pardon without a request from the accused, though it was
widely assumed in legal circles that such a request was
necessary.  The lawyers believed that Tissainayagam's team
had not submitted a pardon request up to this point because
they believed it was futile and were focused instead on the
appeal.  Now, however, the defense team would reconsider its
strategy.  It was likely that Tissainayagam's lawyers would
be in touch with the attorney general, who was in charge of
negotiating the conditions of a pardon.  (NOTE: Apart from
post-pardon conditions, such as an agreement on public
statements about the case, etc., it also will be important
for the two sides to discuss the withdrawal of
Tissainayagam's appeal, which would be required before a
pardon could be issued.  Typically in such cases,
negotiations result in a promise that a pardon will be issued
later on the same day as the appeal is withdrawn.  There is
little trust on either side, however, so negotiations could
be difficult.  END NOTE.)

BEATING A RETREAT
-----------------

7. (SBU) On the same day that the acquittal of Jasiharan and
Vadivel was announced, news also broke about instructions
from the Ministry of Defense to police to arrest journalists
who wrote about serving army officers' political aspirations
or activities based on army regulations prohibiting active
military personnel from participating in political campaigns.
 (NOTE: It is widely assumed that these instructions were
aimed at censoring discussion of the possible presidential
candidacy of CHOD Fonseka, who the Rajapaksa leadership
apparently views as the one candidate who might spoil the
president's re-election aspirations.  END NOTE.)  The
government has cited alleged violation of these regulations
as the reason for its October 17 arrest of the editor of the
pro-JVP newspaper "Lanka."  Several press outlets have

COLOMBO 00000993  003 OF 003

condemned the government's actions as illegal, because the
regulations relate to campaign activities of army personnel
and have no legal bearing on media activities.  Multiple
journalists have protested, citing their freedom to report on
public statements.  Despite the instructions, however, we
have seen no indication that news outlets are altering their
behavior, and there continue to be stories about Fonseka's
possible candidacy in the press, including pro-GSL papers.

MORE DEATH THREATS AGAINST SUNDAY LEADER
----------------------------------------

8. (C) On October 25, the Sunday Leader, the newspaper
formerly edited by journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge who was
murdered last January, ran as their headline "And Now They
Come for Us."  The accompanying article reported that current
editor-in-chief Frederica Jansz and news editor Munza Mushtaq
both received hand-written death threats, similar in style to
the one Wickrematunga received before his death.  On October
27, PAO met with Jansz and Mushtaq, who brought copies of the
threats and of the letter Wickrematunga had received and
explained their suspicion that the letters were from the same
person.  They have sent the letters to a hand-writing expert
for analysis.  Jansz and Mushtaq believe the threats may be
related to a suit brought against them by Defense Secretary
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for some critical articles.  The editors
also complained the paper had been under criticism of late
for publishing the finding of a U.S.-based Tamil NGO that the
controversial Channel 4 video of the alleged execution of
Tamils by Sri Lankan soldiers was authentic.  When asked
whether they thought they needed protection, Jansz and
Mushtaq replied that they had been offered the services of a
private security firm but requested that the embassy put more
pressure on the defense secretary to improve the media
environment.

COMMENT
-------

9. (C) The release and apparent acquittal of the printers
arrested with Tissainayagam is very good news.  We have not
yet seen the court's written judgment, but the verdict
appears directly to contradict the conspiracy charges against
Tissainayagam since they were the people with whom he
allegedly conspired to publish his "terrorist" writings.  The
stark contrast in the rulings probably stems from the
different routes the cases took through the legal system.
Tissainayagam was tried by a judge who did not usually handle
PTA cases and was known for her support of the president;
Jasiharan and Vadivel went through normal channels.  This was
bad news for Tissainayagam but somewhat good news for the Sri
Lankan judiciary, which apparently can reach independent
conclusions when political pressure is absent.

10. (S) The president's apparent signal that he is ready to
proceed with a pardon of Tissainayagam is also welcome news.
Negotiations between the attorney general and Tissainayagam,
his family, and counsel could be difficult, given the high
stakes.  But we should encourage all parties to move to
resolution as quickly as possible.  More death threats
against the Sunday Leader represent a step backwards.  The
Sunday Leader can be sensational in its reporting and the
paper is likely to make the most out of the recent threats.
Nevertheless, the threats appear genuine to us and a cause
for concern.  We will remain in close touch with Jansz and
Mushtaq.
BUTENIS
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Dear Frederica Jansz , They can kill you. But they can’t kill the truth. You know barking dog never bite. All right thinking people will with you. But careful there is no rule of law in Sri Lanka. We strongly believe you don’t go beyond any party or politicians, Go had. Don’t give-up your media culture. Triple Gem bless you

  • 0
    0

    Another clumsy attempt by the uneducated uncultured ones to blame Fonseka.

  • 0
    0

    Neither Fredrika Jansz or Mumza Mustaq have been able to hold permanent positions in any respectable newspaper. The Sunday Leader not being one of those made these allegations when both were publishing reports given them by the pro LTTE diaspora agents and NGOd who were in reciept of donations from pro LTTE funds. Thushara Jayaratne has not been a journalist so how will he know the rules and the laws. The Sarath Fonseka interview was flawed from day one and did both the Government and the Commander wrong. An honest journalist would have had a tape recorder for an interview this important. She did not have one claiming that although she conducted the interview someone else took down the notea. Horse dung! If she had any sense and knew the rules then she would not have published hearsay or allegations without admitting that they were both without foundation. Knowing journalists I am sure that an inquiry will reveal that she had the letter threatening her written to her by an accomplice so she could get media focus around the world. She should also not be living with a married man who has four children and a living wife.

  • 0
    0

    LOL good joke. Since when did people mail you death threats in SL? It usually works by a bunch of thugs turning up at your office/place of work or home and threaten you (or tell your colleges/family and get them to pass on the message) thus their are many witnesses (real ones, not of the “anonymous” type hiding behind the shadows). Other times they will hurl stones, garbage at your office/place of work or home and also leave some graffiti.

    They do not mail you death threats. Seriously? LOL. What is this the 1930s? Give our criminals and gangs and other hired goons some credit will you they like the mafia have moved on with the times, Facebook is good place too these days for “death threats” to be delivered.

    Peter Casie Chetty has said it best, this is just attention seeking by the Sunday”Leader” rag and these jobless people who just can put pen to paper with some poor quality English and consider themselves journalists because thats all that qualifies to be a journalists in Sri Lanka in the first place. Thus by Sri Lanka’s extremely low standards for a person to be a “journalist” everyone who comments on websites, blogs, facebook, newspaper sites etc are also “journalists” (in deed some comments are even better than the newspaper articles out performing the “correspondent”).

  • 0
    0

    Talking about “media freedom” and “good journalism” what happened to that trash pile “Lanka” paper from the JVP? This paper openly called for the execution of the Rajapakses on Galle Face (nowhere in the world, including mighty America would such be allowed) and engaged in other baseless yet vicious “reporting”. These people at “Lanka” were even calling for the bombing of Sri Lanka and destructive economic sanctions, all so they (along with other frustrated political parties such as the UNP) could get their short sighted goals and settle political jealousies even if the nation disintegrates in the process and the people suffer immensely, which they care little about.

    But then what happened to these champions of “media freedom” at “Lanka” paper? They got set upon by their on goon squads and hired killers when the JVP “civil war” erupted and the Lanka paper editor and his “journalists” begged, that’s right BEGGED the Government (which they have spent months trying to have killed off) to protect them, which they (the Government) have done.

    In itself this speaks about media freedom and democracy in this country as well as the vicious selfish individuals that exist in this country who try to undermine it at every stage possible for their own power lusting desires.

    Now will the Lanka “journalists” appreciate what the Government has done for them when threatened with death by their own side? No. If “peace” comes to the JVP, Lanka paper will return to its vicious bogus “reporting” and accuse the Government which is currently protecting its worthless staff of “harassing and falsely imprisoning them” –some might even say this now (along with the threats from the JVP itself) as a reasoning to seek asylum in the West.

  • 0
    0

    thushara jayarathnas real name Gopinandan balakrishnan , hay why u put tamil name and write

  • 0
    0

    hay First of all must tell frediricka jansz is a whore, and many politicians she has slept to take informations. She is funded by Tamil diaspora and Norweigian Tamil Kacchi in Norway and given $2500 every month to keep sri lanka army dowm , see her accounts at swis bank you can understand.

  • 0
    0

    see Tamil Daspora funded journalists in Sri Lanka

    Sunandha Deshapriya $4500
    Tissa Nayagam $4500
    Fredricka Jansz $4500 + $2500

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