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Editor of Sri Lankan Tamil newspaper arrested
T V Sriram in Colombo | February 26, 2009 16:42 IST
The editor of a Tamil daily was picked up by the police on Thursday for "questioning" in connection with the news on last week's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam aircraft attack on Colombo that targeted a government building.
N Vidyatharan, the chief editor of the Sudar Oli, a Tamil daily, was 'dragged' from the funeral of a relative in the suburbs of Colombo on Thursday morning, the newspaper's managing editor said.
While initial reports said the journalist was abducted by men wearing police uniforms, the Media Centre for National Security clarified that he had been taken up for questioning in connection with the news on the LTTE [Images] aircraft attack.
"He has been detained for questioning and his release will depend on the outcome of this interrogation," the MCNS said, without giving further details.
The Tamil newspaper's Managing Editor and Managing Director E Saravanabhavan earlier told PTI: "N Vidyatharan was attending the funeral in Mount Lavinia when he was abducted by an armed group at 9.55 am". He was dragged like an animal and put in a white van that had a number plate which may be a wrong one," he said.
"Even if Vidyatharan has been arrested, this is not the way that he should have been dragged from a funeral," Saravanabhavan added.
In a stunning attack, two light aircraft of the beleaguered LTTE bombed Colombo on February 20, hitting Sri Lanka's [Images] main revenue department building near the air force headquarters and killing at least two persons before they were shot down.
The LTTE said it was a suicide mission, while the government said the military had averted major damage by shooting down the rebel aircraft.
Vidyatharan, in his 40's, is popular in the journalist fraternity and is known for his suave and friendly manners. Sudar Oli is a Tamil newspaper published from Colombo. It is affiliated to the Jaffna-based Udayan newspaper, which has for a long time been the only source of news in the war-torn region and has witnessed several attacks.
"I just spoke to Vidyatharan and he said he is okay though I do not know from where he was calling," said Saravanabhavan, adding the chief editor of Sudar Oil could also be speaking under intimidation.
Saravanabhavan is also the managing director and managing editor of Udayan, which is the best selling and oldest newspaper in the war-ravaged Jaffna peninsula.
In August 2006, a warehouse of Udayan newspaper was burned down by unidentified persons in Jaffna. Vidyatharan's newspapers have been critical of the military offensive against the Tamil Tigers.