Media rights bodies condemn Sri Lanka net censorship

June 21, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s top media rights body has condemned a statement by a minister who made remarks about hacking a Tamil news website which was blocked by at least two of the country’s top telecom firms, reportedly on government orders. The full statement is reproduced below:

The Free Media Movement (FMM) unequivocally condemns the outrageous statement by Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, as reported by the BBC’s Sinhala Service and by AFP today, that he would love to hire hackers to disable Tamilnet, but had not found anyone yet for the job.

Minister Rambukwella’s statement is tantamount to Government sanctioned cyber-terrorism against websites that do not toe its line.

The reference to the use of hackers to shut down websites is a strategy that offensively transgresses the responsibility to protect fundamental rights of citizens, including the freedom of expression and the right to information, by a Government Minister.

The Minister’s statement also puts him at cross purposes with the Computer Crimes Bill enacted in Sri Lanka earlier this year, holding him culpable under the law for attempting to hack into a website with the intent to cause disruption.

The FMM seeks urgent clarification from the Gove