March 5, 2010

His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 11 2446657

Mr. Mohan Peiris
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department,
Colombo 12
Fax: +94 112 436421                       

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern for the safety of columnist Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda.

According to PEN’s information, Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda, political analyst, journalist and visual designer for the Lanka eNews, disappeared on January 24, 2010, and his whereabouts remain unknown. He was last seen leaving his office on that evening, and there are fears that he has been abducted by pro-government forces. Government sources have reportedly denied the allegation.

Ekanaliyagoda is a leading columnist, and reportedly published articles in favor of the defeated opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka ahead of the Sri Lankan presidential elections that took place on January 26. The Lanka eNews web site was blocked during the elections, and its offices were reportedly searched by unidentified individuals on January 28, 2010.

Previously, on August 27, 2009, Ekanaliyagoda was abducted and held blindfolded overnight, and was released after being told that he was not the correct target. Family and colleagues have expressed increasing concern that the authorities have done very little to investigate Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda’s disappearance, and they fear for his safety.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda has been kidnapped in retaliation for his work as a journalist, and fears that pro-government forces may be responsible for his disappearance. We therefore call for full, prompt and impartial investigation into his case as a matter of urgency. We are alarmed that journalists in Sri Lanka continue to be targeted for their dissenting views, and urge authorities to abide by their obligations to the international treaties protecting freedom of expression, in particular Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a signatory.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.


Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H. M. G. S. Palihakkara
Permanent Mission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the UN
630 Third Avenue, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 986-1838 

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