French journalists arrested for videoing army road block:Right gro

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Colombo, Dec 25 (UNI) An independent media rights group today charged that a crew attached to a French television channel was arrested by Sri Lankan Security Forces for video taping a military roadblock in the southern Galle district on the eve of Christmas last night.

Two French journalists detained by the military over video taping a road block were kept in police custody over Christmas night in Southern Sri Lanka. A Tamil family who was being filmed were also detained by the military and kept in the police custody over night, the Free Media Movement (FMM) said in a statement today.

Vehemently condemning the arrest and detention of the journalists, the FMM said the TV crew of female journalist Capucine Henri and cameraman C Siomon of France 24 news channel was filming a Tamil family visiting their detained relatives on Christmas eve.

''They were travelling in a mini bus and on the way filmed a road block for five seconds and the military objected to filming,''the FMM said, adding that the driver and the conductor of the mini bus were also detained.

According to the FMM, the TV crew was not allowed to enter the detention centre with the family and the military arrested them and handed them over to the police when they were waiting near a restaurant for the family to come out of the camp after visiting their relatives.

''This is another instance of authorities overreacting on a right to know issue, ignoring that media has right to report in a creative way on matters concerning arrested and detention,'' the FMM said.

Top police sources in Colombo confirmed the arrest and detention of two French for filming the area without permission, but said the authorities were not sure whether they were really journalists.

The FMM quoted a police officer who had watched video tape as saying that there was a scene of a road block in the video and they are being investigated by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID).

''The FMM views this as another attempt to intimidate foreign media covering conflict related issues in Sri Lanka. FMM deplores that peoples' rights including the right to know, are being trampled without any consideration of rule of law under the emergency regulations in Sri Lanka today,'' it said.

It also urged the authorities to speed up the investigation and release the journalists in detention without further delay.


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