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Monday, June 17, 2024

Detention of Journalist Keerthi Rathnayake extended for 90 days under PTA

Keerthi Ratnayake, a defense and political analyst at Lanka e News, has been arrested by the Rajapakse family government following personal warning information given  to the Indian embassy in Colombo. He is currently being held in the Colombo Criminal Investigation Dept. (CID) for a 90-day detention order under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)

Following a directive from the Colombo DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon to the Kollupitiya Police Station on the 14 th to give a statement about the message given to the Indian Embassy, the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) followed him when he was returning home following giving a statement to the Kollupitiya Police at 10 am.

The CCD team then handcuffed him as an accused and took him to the Godagama residence where he was living. They searched his home, seized his personal laptop, personal mobile phone and several pen drives and took them to the CCD headquarters in Dematagoda.

He was then detained in the CCD for five days under an interrogation order signed by the Minister in charge of Police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and questioned until yesterday (19). The detention order was extended to 90 days on the 19th and handed over to the Colombo CID yesterday for further investigations. During his detention at the CCD, he was questioned by a team of CID officers and a team of TID officers.

On the day of his arrest 14th his lawyers were allowed to meet him by CCD Director SSP Nandana Kumara and CCD OIC Neville Silva. Two days later, on the 16th, he was given clothes he needed and two of his closest friends were given the opportunity to talk TO HIM BY PHONE. Those who spoke to him told Lanka e News that he had not been assaulted or subjected to any other form of physical torture at that time.

Searching friends houses without search warrants..

Meanwhile, a police team had visited the house of journalist Keerthi Ratnayake’s wife and children in Kandy without a search warrant issued by a court and seized several mobile phones and pen drives used by the children for education and brought them to Colombo. However, a receipt had been issued for the seized items.

Similarly, a team of CID police officers had gone to a friend’s house near Godagama where Keerthi Ratnayake was living and had searched the house saying that Keerthi’s computers were hidden there. No search warrant was issued for the search. The stock of items including several computers and telephones used by the children in the house were seized and a receipt was issued for those items. The landlord’s wife was ordered to appear at the CID the next day to obtain a statement. When she went to the CID on the 17th she was interrogated for about five hours and her statements were recorded.

Hunting the messenger and silencing the journalist…

However, Keerthi Ratnayake has been questioned by the Kollupitiya Police, CCD, CID and TID, but the attention have not been given on the forecast he gave to the Indian Embassy. Before his arrest Keerthi had warned the Indian embassy in Colombo to be vigilant, predicting an attack on the Indian embassy in Colombo on the 15th on Indian Independence Day. He was concerned that the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka could be attacked on Indian Independence Day due to the rapidly growing Taliban insurgency in the region, the Chinese government behind it and China’s conspiratorial activities in Sri Lanka. He also presented a photograph to show the connection between the Chinese and the Taliban terrorists. What is happening now is clear, even to a child, that the messenger is being chased by the police in an attempt to hunt him down.

According to Lanka e News, the masterminds of Keerthi’s repression are the Minister of Police Sarath Weerasekera and Colombo DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon who were attacked by his articles. A 90-day detention order has been issued against Keerthi and the conspirators detained at the CID have been working to silence Keerthi for a long time.

Answers to Sarath Weerasekara’s insults..

Lanka e news must simply respond briefly to the insults hurled at our journalist Keerthi Ratnayake by Minister Sarath Weerasekara and Air Force Spokesman Group Captain Dushan Wijesinghe through the electronic media.

Sarath Weerasekara has said that it is an offense for Keerthi to give information about the security information he received as a former security officer to the Indian Embassy without giving it to the police. Sarath Weerasekara’s police are a group of policemen who allowed to detonate a series of bombs despite eight warnings from the Indian intelligence service that a Muslim extremist group would detonate bombs in Sri Lanka on a particular day. However, it is the practice of any sane journalist to provide such information first to the victim before informing the forecast of the attack to the police. It is not a surprise for these scapegoats and nincompoops  unable to understand, If a neighbour’s house is on fire, we immediately call the neighbour and say, ‘Your house is on fire.’ Not to report it to a distant police station.

Answers to Air Force Spokesperson’s Insults..

Air Force Spokesman Group Captain Dushan Wijesinghe told the media that Keerthi Ratnayake had served in the Air Force but was not an intelligence officer and had served in an administrative post and the latter had been expelled from the Air Force due to a financial fraud.

We can understand the cover-up by any forces, even if their intelligence officers withdraw. However, it is untrue to say that he was fired from the Air Force for a financial fraud. Keerthi Ratnayake was removed from his post without being produced before a military court and placed under house arrest for about eight months at the Katunayake air force camp. He was later discharged from the air force. Keerthi filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal No. 104/2005 in 2005 seeking to issue a writ order against the then Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Donald Perera. The case was heard by Justice Sri Pawan who later became the chief justice of the Supreme Court and Judge Sisira de Abrew. On March 13, 2007, the judges ruled that it was illegal to dismiss Keerthi from the Air Force without even presenting him to a court of law, and that he should be reinstated with arrears of his wages. We have that verdict. But Keerthi never went back to the Air Force instead he went to a job in the Middle East. Therefore, the recent statement made by the present Air Force Spokesman Group Captain Dushan Wijesinghe to the media was made with a deliberate intention of harming the dignity of our journalist by concealing the truth. If Dushan Wijesinghe wants we can send the court verdict for his reference.

Life-threatening after mudslinging..

From all these facts, it appears to us that the politicians and officials who are working for the family government want to tarnish the character of our journalist Keerthi Ratnayake. More mudslinging will come out in the future. What will happen after the mudslinging may be a loss of his life. Such incidents have happened endlessly before.

Accordingly, Keerthi Ratnayake will take to show the hiding place of the terrorists who were preparing to attack the Indian Embassy. Police spokespersons of Sarath Weerasekara and Deshabandu Tennakoon are likely to say that Keerthi Ratnayake was injured in the shooting and died while being hospitalized and was shot dead by terrorists hiding in the area. We are not ready to hear or accept such subterfuges.

Therefore, we emphasize that it is the inalienable responsibility of all those responsible to take steps to save the life of our defense and political analyst journalist Keerthi Ratnayake.

Lanka e News Editorial Board


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