Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 13:00 UK

Sri Lankans deport UK news team

Displaced Tamils at a camp
The report included allegations that women were taken from the camps

A Channel 4 News team has been deported from Sri Lanka after reporting claims of abuse in camps for displaced Tamils, the UK Foreign Office has confirmed.

The Sri Lankan Defence Minister ordered Asia correspondent Nick Paton-Walsh, cameraman Matt Jasper and producer Bessie Du to leave the country.

The TV report contained claims that dead bodies were left where they fell and allegations of sexual abuse.

The Sri Lankan government has denied the allegations in Tuesday's report.

'Deeply disappointing'

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said all three journalists were receiving consular assistance.

She added: "This is a deeply disappointing decision when the case for more transparency, not less, is overwhelming."

Police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera told reporters the trio were arrested in the eastern city of Trincomalee on Saturday. He said investigations were continuing.

Lakshman Hulugalle, the head of the Sri Lankan government security information centre, said the journalists had admitted that they had "done something wrong", according to the Associated Press.

But Mr Paton-Walsh told the agency that any suggestions he had given a statement to the police or admitted wrongdoing were "complete rubbish".

He said the crew had been driven to Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, with a police escort.

A spokesperson for ITN, which produces Channel 4 News, said: "We will be seeking an explanation from the Sri Lankan government for this decision."

The Channel 4 team had been covering fighting between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Its report looked at the conditions in camps that had been set up by the government for the refugees who had fled the northern war zone.

It explored allegations of sexual abuse as well as shortages of food and water.

The United Nations estimates that about 50,000 civilians are trapped by fighting as government troops attempt to oust the Tamil Tigers from their strongholds across the north.

The rebels have been driven back into a small pocket of land on the north-eastern coast.

The Tamil Tigers have fought for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority since 1983. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the war.



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