Feb 26, 2017

Army intelligence had special unit to crackdown on journalists Featured

The CID has uncovered evidence that points to the existence of a unit in the Army intelligence to crackdown on journalists.

In the course of its investigations into the assault on journalist Keith Noyarh, police found that this unit’s job had been to go after journalists who reported on military operations in the north, east and the south.

It had threatened, abducted, assaulted, made to disappear or killed journalists who were critical of the then government.

Over 30 north-east journalists too, targeted

This Army unit had murdered Lasantha Wickrematunge and attacked Noyarh and Upali Tennakoon as well as more than 30 journalists from the north and the east.

It was also connected to the enforced disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda, police sources say.

The five Army intelligence men who are in custody over the attack on Noyarh, have revealed details of their crackdowns against journalists.

4 1 appoinmentAmal Karunasekara

Their leader was a major general who had reported to the then intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amal Karunasekara was had to report to the Army commander at the time Sarath Fonseka.

Karunasekara is presently the Kilinochchi commander.

Police sources say uncovered telephone conversation data point to his having had close connections with the then defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Kapila Hendawitharana

The national intelligence service at the time was under Maj. Gen. Kapila Hendawitharana, who was accountable only to the defence secretary.

Kapila Hendawitharane

Reports say Hendawitharana is presently in charge of security in the Shangri-La hotel project at Galle Face Green, Colombo.

The Army headquarters was located in the land where this project is coming up now, and it was the Rajapaksa regime that had given the land on outright ownership for the hotel project.

The intelligence unit that cracked down on journalists had its safe-house located at the Tripoli barracks near Elphinstone Theatre in Colombo.

sarath fonseka 2.pngSarath Fonseka as common candidate

In the late 2009, Karunasekara was posted to Turkey as Sri Lanka’s ambassador and his job was to keep a watch on LTTE activities in Africa.

After Sarath Fonseka went against the Rajapaksas and became the common candidate at the presidential polls, the then defence secretary launched an investigation into the murder of Wickremetunge and the attacks on Noyarh and Tennakoon.

For that investigation, Karunasekara was especially summoned home from Turkey and a statement recorded from him.

However, he did not make any exposure during the investigation that led to his being sidelined by the then regime.

Exact personal revenge?

The responsibilities of the Army intelligence were to gather information with regard to terrorist activities, investigate threats to national security locally and internationally and also collect information on organized crime.

The crackdown on journalists was outside its responsibilities.

The talented officers in the unit had been used to exact personal revenge, the cases in point being Wickrematunga killing and the attacks on Noyarh and Tennakoon.

More than 7,000 personnel

The Army intelligence was expanded after the war victory to make it stronger, with more than 7,000 personnel in four units.

It had three units comprising 4,000 personnel in Vavuniya, Jaffna and Minneriya during the war, and it now has additional units in Colombo, Trincomalee, Kilinochchi and Mulaitivu too.

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