Page last updated at 19:27 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 20:27 UK

Sri Lankan reporter 'kidnapped'

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Colombo

Map of Sri Lanka

A Sri Lankan journalist says she was kidnapped from outside her home in the capital Colombo and held for a day by people claiming to be the police.

Krishni Ifam, a Tamil reporter who works for media development NGO Internews, said the men had warned her to give up journalism altogether.

She said she was then released in the central city of Kandy late on Wednesday with a tiny amount of cash.

Police in Sri Lanka could not be reached for comment.

Unmarked vans

Ms Ifam has been speaking about her ordeal on a private television station and, separately, to the BBC.

She said men who said they were policemen forced her to get into their vehicle outside her Colombo home early on Wednesday and drove for several hours while keeping her blindfolded.

She said they had taken her belongings, asked if she was writing articles for foreign media outlets and warned her to give up journalism altogether before releasing her.

Ms Ifam used to write for a prominent Tamil-language newspaper.

Separately, a columnist who usually covers astrology was picked up late on Wednesday by men with identity cards from the Criminal Investigation Department. His wife said he was still being held 24 hours later.

In both these cases the vehicles used were said to be unmarked white vans, which have become notorious in Sri Lanka as a means of abduction and sometimes disappearance.

The Sri Lankan government insists that the media here are free.

But many journalists say they do not feel free to write or broadcast what they want - many have been physically attacked and others have fled into exile.

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