Sri Lanka editor faces death threat: rights group

April 18, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lankan authorities have issued a thinly veiled death threat against a newspaper editor for reporting on military excesses and human rights abuses, a media rights group said Wednesday. Although there is no formal censorship imposed, Sri Lankan authorities prevent journalists from travelling to areas held by rebels, who are waging a separatist conflict that has killed more than 60,000 people since 1972. The local Free Media Movement (FMM) said Sri Lanka’s defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the younger brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse, threatened Champika Liyanarachchi, the editor of the Daily Mirror on Tuesday.

The FMM, which comprises journalists and rights activists, said Rajapakse had also said that the editor should not expect any security from the government to protect her.

“Given the volatile situation in the country, the FMM also fears that this threat sends a chilling message to the media community at large in Sri Lanka,” the group said.

The Daily Mirror did not report the threat but another paper, the Morning Leader, said Rajapakse had “criticised” the Mirror editor for a series of “anti-government” articles.

Rajapakse is alleged to have telephoned