Sunday Leader Editor Sues Media Minister For 50 Million
- Government Launches Slander Campaign
- Publisher and Editor of Island newspaper also to be sued
Lawyers for the Editor of The Sunday Leader Frederica Jansz on Friday sent a letter demanding 50 million rupees in damages to the Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella for defamatory remarks made against her after the weekly post cabinet news conference on Thursday.
The publisher and the Editor of The Island newspaper were also sent similar letters of demand for publishing the minister’s allegations. The Island newspaper was the only media outlet in the country to report Rambukwella’s remarks.
The Island newspaper on Friday reported that “the government yesterday alleged that The Sunday Leader editor Frederica Jansz was critical of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa since he had prevented her from obtaining a diplomatic posting abroad, through the good offices of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, addressing the weekly Cabinet press briefing in Colombo, said that Frederica had met President Rajapaksa at Temple Trees recently, in the company of Gamini Abeyratne alias Taxi Abey and requested that she be posted abroad as a diplomat.
“The Defence Secretary on hearing of the meeting had objected to any favours being granted to Frederica,” Minister Rambukwella said.
The newspaper quotes the Minister as saying The Sunday Leader Editor’s allegations that Gothabaya Rajapaksa used foul language “may be due to malice on her part.”
The Minister, while confirming the remarks, contradicted The Island report saying he did not make the remarks at the post cabinet media briefing. “One of those guys asked me just after the briefing,” he told The Sunday Leader on Friday night.
Jansz, flatly denying that she ever asked for a personal favour from any politician, leave alone President Mahinda Rajapaksa, confirmed that she did meet the President on three occasions. In all three times there was at least one other person present.
The meeting where she is alleged to have asked for a job took place on May 06 last year after the former Deputy Chairman of Airport and Aviation Services from 2001-2004 in the Ranil Wickremesinghe government, Gamini Abeyratne conveyed an invitation saying “the President would like to meet you.”
Both Gamini Abeyratne and Treasury Secretary P. B. Jayasundera were present at the meeting. “It was a general chat. We discussed the white flag story and he referred to the financial issues at The Sunday Leader,” she said.
Three days after the meeting Frederica Jansz wrote to the President stressing that there should be no misunderstanding on his part that she had asked for any favours. “Thank you for your time but I never have and never will seek political favours. Our troubles at The Sunday Leader are for Lal (Wickremetunge, the publisher) and me to address and resolve.” She said in the letter.
However two days after The Sunday Leader published the outburst by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Gamini Abeyratne, now a Director at Mihin Lanka and a close confidant of the President phoned Jansz and said that Chairman of Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Hudson Samarasinghe has asked for confirmation that he had taken Jansz to meet the President. Abeyratne says he refused and cut off the phone call.
Dr. P.B. Jayasundara was not contactable.