Attack on Sri Lanka broadcaster is criminal: United States

Jan 06, 2008 (LBO) – The United States has strongly condemned an attack on an independent broadcaster in Sri Lanka by a heavily armed group that stormed its main studio facilities and called for swift investigation. A similar raid was conducted by a group of armed men against the independent The Sunday Leader newspaper, who burnt its printing presses.

None of the perpetrators of that attack were brought to justice although the government promised a probe into the incident. “The U.S. deplores this latest in a series of criminal attacks on the independent media in Sri Lanka,” the United States embassy in Colombo said.

“A free press that is not subject to intimidation or violence is an essential component of any democracy.”

A group of men armed with grenades and automatic rifles had stormed the studio complex of Maharaja Television which operates popular Sinhala, English and Tamil television and radio stations.

A group of more than a dozen men had arrived in a white van without number plates, assaulted staff on night duty and shot at equipment and torched the main control room of the complex, employees said.

The US said it strongly condemned what it termed the “brazen attack” on the broadcaste