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* Media organizations concerned about the arrest of Sri Lankan journalist
Fri, Mar 19, 2010, 09:54 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 19, Colombo: Sri Lankan media groups Thursday protested against the arrest of a journalist close to the defeated presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka and demanded his release.

The media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders issuing a statement condemned the arrest of Ruwan Weerakoon, a journalist linked to two pro-government newspapers, the Nation and Bottom Line, and a regular defense columnist of Asian Tribune, a website known for its ardent support for the government.

The Reporters Without Borders said that Weerakoon's arrest and the decision to prosecute him is part of a witch-hunt against the relatives and supporters of General Fonseka, who is himself under arrest.

"Just a month ago, President Rajapaksa ordered the police to personally inform him before any arrest of media personnel. We would like to know if presidential consent was obtained before this journalist's arrest," the press freedom organization added.

Weerakoon reportedly is a close associate of Gen. Sarath Fonseka. By the time he was arrested, Weerakoon had been hospitalized after suffering a heart attack, sources said.

Five media organizations in Sri Lanka also issued a joint statement today condemning Weerakoon's arrest. "We ask the Inspector General of Police to disclose the reasons behind his arrest and detention and make arrangements for him to receive legal aid immediately," the statement said.

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