Sri Lanka blocks Tamil news website

June 20, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka Telecom, the country’s largest Internet service provider, has blocked a pro-rebel website on government orders, a source at the company said Wednesday. A Sri Lanka Telecom executive, who declined to be named, said the website has been blocked for several days on the “advice” of the government.

The London-based Tamilnet.com, which publishes news and opinion about the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, confirmed its site was blocked.

“The de facto climate of self-censorship that has already plagued local media in Sri Lanka has now culminated in mischievous infringement into the freedom of global media,” it said.

A spokesman for the government, which owns just under 50 percent of Sri Lanka Telecom, was not immediately available for comment.

The Sri Lanka-based Free Media Movement said it was “deeply disturbed” to learn that the website was blocked.

“This is a significant turn in the erosion of media freedom in Sri Lanka and clearly demonstrates the extent to which media is censored,” the media group said in a statement.

Some Internet service providers in the country still allow access to the website, which is an influential source