Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Thursday, 20 August 2009 15:32 UK

Top Sri Lanka academic threatened

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
Mr Saravanamuttu is one of sri Lank's best known academics

One of Sri Lanka's most eminent academics has received an anonymous death threat, officials say.

The threat in a letter was sent to the home of Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA).

He is the latest in a long line of prominent people, mostly journalists, who have received death threats.

They have in recent months been threatened, beaten up and in some cases murdered.

Nearly all have been critical of government policy.

The letter sent to Dr Saravanamuttu threatens him because Sri Lanka stands to be deprived of the European Union (EU) benefits in October, with resultant job losses.

It says that much of the information used in reaching this decision was supplied by Dr Saravanamuttu to Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's commissioner for external relations.

The letter has been strongly condemned by the CPA.

"We unreservedly deplore this despicable attempt at causing fear through the use of threats of physical harm... to stifle free expression, dissent and debate. We are equally concerned over the increasing emasculation of... civil society," the CPA statement said.

Police say they are investigating the incident.

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