(Text of statement issued by Reporters without Borders/Reporters sans Frontieres)
Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the reasons that led the management of the newspaper Ceylon Today to force its editor in chief Lalith Allahakkoon to resign on 13 June. The journalist, who received no letter of dismissal, arrived at his office on 16 June to find that access to his computer had been blocked.
“The dismissal of Lalith Allahakkoon by Ceylon Today is worrying,” the press freedom organization said.
“If it is merely an internal restructuring issue, as experienced by many media organizations, there would be no reason to intervene, but we fear that it is rather a restriction on news and information and politically-motivated censorship,”
Reporters Without Borders wrote today to the management of Ceylon Today seeking the reasons for Allahakkoon’s dismissal and asking that all possible steps be taken to find a favourable outcome to this crisis gripping the newspaper’s editorial staff.
On 13 June Allahakkoon was summoned by the executive director Dushyantha Basnayake who asked for his resignation.
The following day, in a letter to Tiran Alles, chairman of Ceylon Newspapers (to which Ceylon Todaybelongs), and circulated to news organizations in Colombo, four of his colleagues, deputy editors Wilson Gnanadass and Dharisha Bastians, and journalists Rasika Jayakody and Dinidu De Alwis, expressed concern about “the persecution of our Editor-in-Chief Lalith Allahakkoon and our journalists that has arisen, based on false assumptions of political and ideological affiliations and allegiances; it is alarming, to a greater extent, that these persecutions and allegations stem from the highest echelons of the management, being you.”