Sri Lanka under fire over Internet censorship

June 21, 2007 (AFP) – Media rights groups attacked Sri Lanka’s government Thursday for blocking domestic access to a website favouring the Tamil Tiger rebels and for saying it would like hackers to disable the site. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Colombo should immediately unblock the Tamilnet.com website.

“Sri Lanka’s Internet service providers have been blocking access to the website on the government’s orders since June 15,” RSF said. “The government must put a stop to this censorship and restore access to the site at once.”

A local rights group, the Free Media Movement (FMM), also criticised government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella over comments in which he said he would “love” to hire hackers to pull down Tamilnet.

The FMM said Rambukwella’s statement was “tantamount to government sanctioned cyber-terrorism against websites that do not toe its line.”

“The FMM seeks urgent clarification from the government as to whether Minister Rambukwella’s comments are indicative of official government policy to shutdown, disrupt or censor content and websites on the Internet.”

But Sri Lanka’s Media Minister Anura Yapa insisted his ministry had nothing to do with preventing users of Sri Lanka T