The premises of Newshub.lk located at No.613/3 Gangodawila, Nugegoda was subject to search by police yesterday (26), based on a false complaint received by sleuths that the company had in its possession defamatory material, targeting one particular candidate in the run up to the recently concluded Presidential Poll.
A team of around 10 police officers including two women police constables from the Mirihana police station, arrived at Newshub’s premises last morning (26), demanding that they were in possession of a search warrant.
Upon having been let into the premises the servers, laptops & PC’s were subject to a through check by the police officers, all but to no avail.
However, when inquired as to who had made the complaint, two Inspectors who were part of the Mirihana police search team said that they were unable to divulge the details of the complainant.
Subsequently, having found no incriminating evidence, police then had taken down an entire list containing the names, addresses and NIC numbers of Newshub.lk’s staff.
“Invalid Search Warrant”
Surprisingly the search warrant produced upon request during the search operation quite frankly was invalid since it’s period of validity was from 24 .11.2018. to 08.12.2018.
However, when inquired in this regard an Inspector who was part of the so called ‘search operation’ said that stenographer who had typed the document had made an error.
Despite the quizzical validity of the document, the staff at Newshub.lk complied with operation, in keeping with common decency.
Search query ‘Gota’
Police officers who took part in the search operation had specifically typed in the key word ‘Gota’ on each and every PC and Laptop including search boxes, browsers.
This makes it quite evident that they were searching for clues pointing towards defamatory content targeting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Iraj’s Noize TV comes into play
Meanwhile the Noize TV web portal operated by Iraj Weeratne following yesterday’s search operation (26) published an article titled “Patali’s Mud Factory Raided By CID”. It also had an ancillary description that “Media Freedom had been confused with web sites publishing defamatory content”.
The Noize TV article also states that Newshub.lk has not been registered with any government authority.
Appended below is a copy of Newshub.lk’s registration with the Ministry of Finance & Mass Media.
Newshub.lk specifically wishes to convey to all parties making such baseless & futile allegations that neither is Newshub.lk owned by Patali Champika Ranawake or any other politician for that matter, nor does it function according to the whims & fancies of the changing political tides, which ‘has’ & ‘continues’ to plague this nation since time immemorial.
Visit by EU Delegation
Meanwhile members of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission, Loic Degen & Eleonora Bulat visited Newshub.lk’s office premises in Gangodawila today (27), during which they engaged in discussions with staff members.
During the discussion it was made clear that the EU Mission in Sri Lanka was also mandated with recording statements from media institutions and their employees who have been unfairly targeted through harassment & political vengeance.
Newshub.lk, however remains resolute in continuing to defend the spirit of free journalism in the country despite surmounting adversity.