The bulk of the independent media was prevented from covering the arrival of the six Sri Lankan fishermen who arrived at the Bandaranayake International Airport (BIA) earlier today, 10 days after they were rescued by Spanish marines from the captivity of Somali pirates.
The free media was informed by a fisheries ministry official at the BIA that there were orders to prevent them from the coverage since they were hostile in opinion to Fisheries Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne.
Those locked out included a BBC team and an official photographer from the European Union (EU) Office based in Colombo. Incidently, the Spanish marines that rescued the fishermen were part of a larger EU operation against the Somali pirates.
Not only that, it was the EU office in Tanzania that provided back up relief and facilitated the fishermen’s return to the country.
The other media groups to be blocked out were the Sinhalese Language dailies Lankadeepa, Divaina, Lakbima, Maubima Ada and the English Language Ceylon Today and The Island.
Those allowed access to the coverage were the pro-government ITN and Rupavahini television stations and the Sinhalese Language broad sheet Rivira.
The group of Sri Lankans were grabbed by the Somali pirates in early November last year and later put out a ransom demand of US$ six million in return for their release.