Sri Lankan rights group condemns assault on journalist

May 23, 2008 (AFP) – A Sri Lanka media rights group Friday condemned the abduction and assault of a senior journalist, saying it was motivated by his criticism of the government’s war against Tamil Tiger rebels.

Most of the victims are Tamil journalists working in the island’s embattled north and east. Sinhalese journalists working in the south face intimidation, particularly when reporting cases of graft, Amnesty said.

The rights group said those responsible are not punished by the government. Keith Noyahr, a deputy editor and defence analyst with the English-language weekly The Nation, was abducted on Thursday night, severely beaten and dropped off near his residence early Friday, the Free Media Movement (FMM) said.

“There is no other reason for this latest attack against a journalist than his independent writing and analysis of the war in the North, if that is reason at all,” the media rights group said.

Noyahr had been critical of high-ranking military officers and the government’s approach to and conduct of the war, the FMM said.

“This is not just a violation of the freedom of expression and another significant blow to media free