Channel 4 Claims Technicality Behind Denial Of Entry
By Dinouk Colombage
The denial of entry to Sri Lanka to Channel 4 executive, Stuart Cosgrove, and his wife was due to a technicality, according to a Channel 4 spokesperson. The spokesperson explained that both Cosgrove’s passport and visa were valid. However, his passport was rejected as the middle name on the new passport did not match the one on his visa. According to the spokesperson the pair were denied entry into Sri Lanka and they returned to England.
The spokesperson went on to say that Cosgrove had no editorial involvement in ‘Sri Lanka’s killing Fields’.
Channel 4 denied media reports claiming that Cosgrove’s wife, Shirani Sabaratnam, worked with the channel at any point, explaining that “Stuart’s wife works for UKTV, a digital lifestyle, channel.” The spokesperson further added that she had never worked for ITN or Channel 4.
The spokesperson said that the pair had come to Sri Lanka on vacation. The Immigration and Emigration Department said last week that Stuart Cosgrove and his wife were sent back after they arrived in Sri Lanka. Immigration head Chulananda Perera said that Sabaratnam was refused entry at the Bandaranaike International Airport.
Cosgrove however entered the country and was at a Colombo hotel when he was taken back to the airport by officials and sent back. The Channel 4 journalists were among those blacklisted in Sri Lanka following the airing of the controversial Channel 4 war crimes videos.
Based on the video footage, Sri Lanka was accused by some foreign governments and human rights groups of committing war crimes during the final stages of the war against the LTTE.
The military defeated the rebels in May 2009 but following that Channel 4 released the videos it claimed were authentic, showing soldiers killing unarmed rebels at close range. The government however rejected the allegations and said that the videos were doctored and not authentic. Following international pressure, the government later appointed the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to look at some of the incidents which took place during the war including the allegations raised in the Channel 4 video. The military also launched its own inquiry after the LLRC released its final report late last year with a set of recommendations.