A leaked State Intelligence Service document shows that former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered surveillance of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge’s mobile phone, just weeks before he was murdered, Colombo Telegraph can reveal today.
According to the report in possession of the Colombo Telegraph, Rajapaksa had ordered for several mobile numbers to be under surveillance, including that of Wickrematunge. In the order, it was claimed that the numbers had to be under surveillance to carry out intelligence operations in relation to ‘national security’.
Lasantha was subjected to surveillance, along with his telephone among phones of several others which were tapped. This was ordered by Secretary Defence through DIG Keerthi Gajanayake a few weeks before Lasantha was killed on 10th September 2008 (See Communication Below). Wickrematunge was murdered in January 2009 in Attidiya, on his way to office.
The surveillance had been ordered on the basis that the users of the listed hand phones were a national security risk. Some of those listed are prominent politicians including Ranil Wickremesinghe elected democratically, acted democratically and continues to act democratically. It is crystal clear that the politicians were being monitored not as a national security risk but for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s political advantage. That too ordered by his brother using his official position. The CID, SIS or the TID separately or together did have the facilities to intercept/eavesdrop or even monitor via GPS the movements of hand phone users is proved by this document.
However, despite this evidence, President Maithripala Sirisena’s interference over the arrest of army intelligence officers is hampering the investigation process, highly placed sources pointed out, and this is apparent with the granting of bail to Military Intelligence Officer Premananda Udalagama, who was arrested and remanded for his alleged connection in the Wickrematunge murder.
Records go on to show that the police had objected to Udalagama’s bail, but the Magistrate had gone ahead on granted bail, under the influence of Sirisena’s controversial statement made last month, criticizing all those for arresting and remanding army intelligence officers.
A source noted that Udalagama, did not post the simple bail conditions either through fear of getting back to his normal habitat or did not have sufficient time to muster the bail requirements. “Even the Army did not come forward immediately to help post bail for Udalagama as expected or did he refuse to come out of remand prison, is a question that is being asked,” he said.
Another important fact is that Ilandarige Jayamanna, the Army Intelligence Officer who committed suicide claiming he killed Wickrematunge was in fact not in Attitdiya but in Pinnawala at the time Wickrematunge was murdered.
A highly placed political source pointed out that surveilling Wickrematunge’s mobile phone was surprising because all the other numbers in the document were of politicians. “Was this done to camouflage the real intent is a valid thought because the Editor was murdered a few weeks later. None of the others were killed,” the source pointed out.
What the DIG did with the information thus obtained on orders of the Secretary Defence is for the investigators of Wickrematunge’s murder to question. “Recent statement of President Sirisena notwithstanding, this is a murder investigation and country’s move from an oligarchy to a State that accepts Human Rights and Rights to Life cannot be wished away by any person, including the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka included,” the source noted.
“The Yahapalanaya government was elected to correct the course of a nation that was fast spiraling out of control. President Sirisena, has since stated that the media and some NGO’s had misquoted or not read the entirety of his controversial statement. If that is so, he should now correct the misconception that is sweeping across the public, polity and maybe even amongst the judiciary that “war heroes” be they suspects to murder should be bailed out or treated differently to other murderers,” the source said.
Meanwhile, evidence has also been unearthed about a team, run by military intelligence at the former Tripoli Market complex, which was used by high flyers to carry out operations that would suit the political establishment. “The motor cycle brigade too operated from this premises. Wickrematunge’s murder suspects too were held up in this complex. There was a large contingent within this warehouse complex which was refurbished in a plush manner. One such warehouse consisted of the computer brigade of the former Secretary Defence. The five hand phone numbers used for the operation “Kill Lasantha” were used from this location and records prove this,” the source said.