July 27, Colombo: Sri Lanka police had vehemently denied that they have arrested a group of media personnel, who were traveling to Colombo to attend a workshop, at a checkpoint in Omanthai in the North.
Police spokesperson SSP Ajith Rohana has told local media that only the vehicle the journalists were traveling in was taken into custody and the police were not aware that the passengers were media personnel. The police have later released the vehicle.
He told local media that the checkpoint controlled by the Army has received a tip that a van heading to Colombo is transporting heroin.
Seven journalists, who were travelling from the northern Jaffna peninsula to Colombo for an electronic media workshop held at the Sri Lanka Press Institute, were detained at the Omanthai police station Friday night.
The journalists told the local media that they were taken to the Omanthai police station and questioned them over claims that packets of marijuana were found in the vehicle. They charged the Army soldiers of planting the marijuana in their van.
Director of Media Centre, Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya dismissed the journalists' account and said that the army personnel at the Omanthai checkpoint received a tip from an individual that heroin was being transported in a van.
When the soldiers searched the vehicle they have found the marijuana in the van and the Police at Omanthai interrogated the passengers while the army detained the vehicle and later released it.
He rejected the journalists' allegation that the Army soldiers planted the drugs and said the vehicle was searched by the police officers.
Media right groups however condemned the police and military actions and accused the government of organizing these actions to restrict the media personnel from revealing the real situation in the country.
Meanwhile the organizers of the workshop said they were forced to cancel the event due to threats from pro-government protesters for safety of the media personnel.