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Last updated: 17 October, 2005 - Published 16:55 GMT
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Attack on press affects election - FMM
The Free Media Movement condemns the arson attack on the printing press of the Sunday Leader and "Irudina" weeklies.

"This attack threatened not only press freedom, but also free and fair election environment in the country," said the Free Media Movement (FMM).

Among the ashes
The Leader group was highly critical of the ruling party

FMM, a co convener of Centre Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said in a statement from Colombo on Monday that it is very much concerned that "violence against media should not be allowed to continue in the context of upcoming presidential election on 17th November".

The FMM statement says that a group of seven eight persons armed with clubs and knives entered the premises of the printing press at Ratmalana, Colombo around 8.00 pm on 16th October 2005, threatened the manager of dire consequences if he continues to print the newspapers and set fire to bundles of returned newspapers.

Burnt newspapers

Technical manager of Sunday Leader S A L Dias told BBC Sandeshaya that the attackers threatned the management saying "we will come back if you go on printing the same type of newspaper,".

"News papers the Sunday Leader and Irudina are very critical towards the government and exponents of opposition political views. As a press freedom organisation that stands for media freedom as well as plurality and diversity of media FMM defends the rights of privately and publicly owned media emphasising the need for ethical journalism at all times". Says the FMM.

In an interview with the BBC Sandeshaya, The spokeman for FMM, Sunanda Deshapriya said, "Both main candidates in the forthcoming Presidential Election had not given priority to press freedom".

"We do not see any commitment on media freedom in both manifestos". He added.

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