Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Sunday, 31 January 2010

Wife pleads for missing Sri Lanka journalist

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Colombo

Newspapers on sale in Colombo
A newspaper which supported the opposition has been suspended

The wife of a Sri Lankan journalist who mysteriously disappeared one week ago has pleaded that he be freed by whoever is holding him.

Prageeth Eknaligoda's colleagues said he wrote articles favourable to losing presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka.

Gen Fonseka lost last Tuesday's election to the incumbent President, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Media rights groups have also condemned the government for shutting down a newspaper critical of the government.

Mr Eknaligoda, a writer for the website, left home last Sunday morning but has not been heard from since he phoned a colleague that evening, a call that was abruptly cut off.

Emergency regulations

His wife, Sandhya, has told a Sunday newspaper that she and their two sons have not slept for days, saying: "My plea to whoever has Prageeth is to please send him back home".

The website has shut itself down after police searched its premises.

At the same time, local media groups have condemned the authorities' forced suspension of a pro-opposition newspaper, Lanka, and the arrest of its editor.

Their statement accused the government of launching "repression" against media outlets that did not obey government orders or that expressed dissenting voices.

The director of the Criminal Investigation Department told the BBC the editor was being held under emergency regulations, because a recent article might have violated rules on government inquiries into terrorism.

Since the president's election victory, the government has moved to secure its position.

On Friday, it raided the Gen Fonseka's office, arresting 13 people.

It has also detained a serving brigadier who once served directly under Gen Fonseka and has reshuffled many senior military officers.

The Sunday Times newspaper says the move has demoted many suspected of favouring the general.

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