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"No one can attack on the Leader Publications press without the knowledge of the Defence Ministry." -Opposition Leader
(LeN 2007 Nov. 22, 1.30pm) Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday charged that the attack on the Leader Publications press was a blow to media freedom and democracy in the country.

In a statement, the Opposition Leader said: "The junta ruling the country today has delivered another deadly blow to democracy. Early this morning an armed group stormed the Sunday Leader and Irudina Newspaper press, setting one building on fire and severely damaging a number of printing machines."

"This press is located in a High Security Zone. The Ratmalana Airport, the Air Force base, the Kotelawala Defence Academy and an Army camp are also located in this area."

"There are road blocks at every entry point to this zone. Nobody can gain easy access to this zone. It would be extremely difficult to enter this area at night."

"A number of aircraft belonging to the Air Force are hangared at the Ratmalana airbase and tight security measures have been put in place to ensure their safety. So it is surprising that an armed group could gain entry to such a heavily fortified area."

"If any group is to enter this area, they can only do so with the knowledge the Defence Ministry. No one can enter this area without the knowledge of the Ministry."

"Security arrangements in this area are being implemented thoroughly. Hence the armed group had been dispatched there with the knowledge of the Government and the Defence Ministry to destroy the press."

"That is why I brand this regime as a junta. The Cabinet is not aware of these things. This junta has control over the economy, business activities and defence. They have unleashed corruption and terror on the country."

"The Sunday Leader and the Irudina spoke out against these activities. We see this as an attempt to close down these newspapers as they pose a threat to the junta. On previous occasions, too, these newspapers have come under threat."

"Today the media is being suppressed by the banning of newspapers and electronic media and by setting fire to printing presses. Media men too have been intimidated and have to work in a climate of fear."

"The most number of journalists killed have been from Sri Lanka. Many international media organizations have protested against this dangerous trend in Sri Lanka."

"The United National Party vehemently condemns threats against media freedom. We will commit ourselves to upholding media freedom."
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