Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sunday Leader’s editor defends controversial Fonseka interview

Editor of Sri Lanka’s English weekly, Sunday Leader, who carried the controversial December 13 interview with the commander turned politician Sarath Fonseka, added a new dimension today with her insistence that she had quoted the retired General `perfectly accurately’.

In a detailed report under the title `Her Story’, the Editor of the paper Frederica Jansz said, “The article which, perfectly accurately, quoted the General as saying he had heard that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had given an illegal order asking Brigadier Shavendra Silva (later promoted General) to not accomodate surrendering LTTE cadres, became more than a news story.

It became a political phenomenon and the allegations, denials, retractions and recriminations that followed are history.

“However it is a history that has come to be grossly distorted. As all the various parties caught in the story’s fallout struggled to save face, what began as a piece of journalism accusing the government of a serious war crime would become, through lies and deception, a coup for the Rajapaksa administration.

“Ultimately the campaign to vilify and distort the article and discredit me has now reached a point where I feel, I must comment and present what I believe to be an accurate version of the events leading to and following its publication”, Ms. Jansz said.

The long explanation by Ms. Jansz came as the former Army Chief did a Volta face and maintained that his comments were wrongly interpreted by the government within 24 hours after the December 13 Sunday Leader hit the stands. The next issue of Sunday Leader carried a clarification from the Presidential contender.

Besides, on December 19, Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had demanded rupees one billion in damages from the weekly if it fails to apologise for publishing two allegedly defamatory articles.

In a letter to the Publisher and Editor of the weekly, a lawyer acting on behalf of Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa pointed out that a District Court had already restrained the publication from publishing such news in two earlier cases.

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