Sri Lankan news editor arrested at funeral

A Tamil newspaper editor in Sri Lanka was arrested yesterday while attending a relative’s funeral, which has sparked further concerns about press freedom in the country.

Nadesapillai Vidyatharan, the editor of the Sudar Oli and Uthayan newspapers, has been a strong critic of the Government’s efforts to end their 25-year civil war with the Tamil Tigers, and it is believed the arrest is linked to Friday’s air attack on Colombo by two Tiger aircraft.

E. Saravanapavan, his managing editor and brother-in-law, witnessed the arrest and said: “He was abducted. They kicked us and pushed us and then they dragged him like a dog and put him in the van.”

Vidyatharan stood with mourners at a relatives funeral when police arrived and carried him off in a unmarked white van, Saravanapavan said the three men didn’t show identifcation or arrest warrants when they arrived.

Last month Lasantha Wickramatunga, a journalist who accused the Sri Lankan president of corruption, was shot dead on his way to work after recieving death threats and having his printing presses burned down.

Amensty International have said that 14 media workers have been killed since 2006, and more than 20 journalists have fled the country because of death threats.

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