NY Times journalist explains report

Thejournalist who published a report in the New York Times stating that Former President MP Mahinda Rajapaksa obtained funds from China at the 2015 Presidential Election has explained the findings via Twitter.

The main charge against the journalist over the past few days has been unilateral media reporting.

However, rejecting the allegations, South Asia correspondent at The New York Times Maria Abi-Habib said on several occasions, various efforts were made to inquire Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa before releasing the relevant research report.

Taking to Twitter, Abi-Habibi said “They allowed our photographer access to Rajapaksa but refused multiple requests for comment made via email, phone, Whatsapp. They didn’t seem to want to provide their side of the story, which we REALLY wanted to include. We tried for 2 months & still wait for their response today.”

The New York Times had revealed that at least $7.6 million was dispensed from the account of China Harbor Engineering Company which is involved in the Hambantota port, to affiliates of Rajapaksa’s campaign.

Documents seen by The New York Times had revealed that with 10 days to go before the 2015 polls opened, around $3.7 million was distributed in checks: $678,000 to print campaign T-shirts and other promotional material and $297,000 to buy supporters gifts, including women’s saris. Another $38,000 was paid to a popular Buddhist monk who was supporting Rajapaksa’s electoral bid, while two checks totaling $1.7 million were delivered by volunteers to Temple Trees, his official residence.

Most of the payments were from a subaccount controlled by China Harbor, named “HPDP Phase 2,” shorthand for Hambantota Port Development Project.

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