Dec 27, New York: The New York-based media watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Sri Lankan authorities to immediately release an Indian journalist arrested for filming Sri Lanka's military bases in the North.
Sri Lankan authorities arrested Tamil Prabhakaran, an Indian filmmaker and journalist for the Junior Vikatan, a Chennai based Tamil-language magazine, Wednesday when he was allegedly filming and photographing a military base in the North violating his tourist visa regulations and country's security laws.
The South Indian journalist, who was a close associate of Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) Jaffna district MP Sivagnanam Sritharan, was arrested at Pooneryn in Kilinochchi district while he was photographing a military patrol.
The suspect had taken over 50 photographs of army deployment in the Northern Province and was believed to planning to propagate anti-Sri Lanka sentiments in Tamil Nadu, according to a report in the Sri Lankan Daily The Island.
The suspected is currently being investigated by the Terrorist Investigation Department.
According to Sri Lankan officials Prabhakaran has arrived in Sri Lanka on a visitor or tourist visa but was seen interviewing pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) politicians and taking photographs of army check points and military installations.
MP Sritharan, who was accompanying Prabhakaran, has denied going to military installations and photographing them as in any case, the sites are not accessible.
The MP has alleged that the journalist was manhandled and threatened by the security forces.
Prabhakaran was reportedly working on a documentary about the plight of Sri Lanka's Tamil population.
"Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa continually insists that his administration has nothing to hide, yet time and time again, we see authorities harass and intimidate journalists in an effort to prevent them from doing their work," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.
"Sri Lanka should release Tamil Prabhakaran immediately," Simon demanded.
The Indian mission in Colombo is reportedly seeking access to the journalist, while Sri Lankan media reports said the journalist is expected to be deported.