By Marianne David
State-owned Lake House newspapers Daily News, Dinamina and Silumina Editorials were taken over by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) unions last night, Daily FT learns.
A highly-placed source linked to Lake House told Daily FT that page one of today’s Daily News had been changed by Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalists.No violence had been reported during what was termed as the “unofficial takeover” of Lake House.
Meanwhile, select members of ITN staff came under attack yesterday and Sri Lanka Rupavahini channel transmission was stopped after a group barged in soon after the news of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa being sworn in as Prime Minister broke.
Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera termed the halting of Rupavahini transmission as an act of sabotage. Special Task Force personnel had been brought in to bring the situation under control.
According to ITN News Deputy General Manager – News and Current Affairs Subhash Weerathunga Jayawardena, he had been informed an attack was being planned at ITN shortly after the swearing-in had taken place and he had been advised to leave the office immediately.
“I got into my vehicle with two other staff members and tried to leave, but we were surrounded at the gate by the members of a union associated with the SLPP. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s supporters surrounded the vehicle, asked me to get down and threatened us saying ‘your time is done’. Immediately some longstanding ITN staff members gave us cover and asked me to leave. I was able to leave the place because they saved me,” Jayawardena told Daily FT.
According to Jayawardena, the mob had then entered the newsroom, threatened several others and forced them to leave the premises, after which they had taken over the newsroom.
“Select people from the news team had been threatened and put out,” he said.