|Owner(s)||Asanga Seneviratne (72%)|
Lal Wickrematunge (28%)
|Publisher||Leader Publications (Private) Limited|
|Founded||19 June 1994|
|Headquarters||No. 24 Katukurunduwatte Road, Ratmalana, Sri Lanka|
|Sister newspapers|| Iruresa ( Irudina )|
The Morning Leader
The Sunday Leader was an English-language Sri Lankan weekly newspaper published by Leader Publications (Private) Limited. It was founded in 1994 and is published from Colombo. Its sister newspapers are the Iruresa ( Irudina ) and the defunct The Morning Leader . Founded by brothers Lasantha Wickrematunge and Lal Wickrematunge, the newspaper is known for its outspoken and controversial news coverage.The newspaper and its staff have been attacked and threatened several times and its founding editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was assassinated.
The Sunday Leader was founded in 1994 by brothers Lasantha Wickrematunge and Lal Wickrematunge with the first edition being published on 19 June 1994.The newspaper was associated with silent partner and leading politician and presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake who was assassinated on 24 October 1994.
The Sunday Leader was shut down by the Sri Lankan government on 22 May 2000 using the recently passed censorship law – the Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions and Powers) Regulation No.1 of 2000.The government's chief censor Ariya Rubasinghe had ordered that the newspaper cease publication for six months (22 May 2000 to 21 November 2000) following an article in the paper which mocked the country's censorship of the military situation imposed after the embarrassing defeat in the Second Battle of Elephant Pass. The police locked Leader Publications' printing facility and installed armed guards outside the building. Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge subsequently filed a fundamental rights application with the Supreme Court challenging the closure. On 30 June 2000 the Supreme Court ruled that the ban on The Sunday Leader was illegal and ordered the police to re-open the newspaper immediately.
On 5 September 2000 Lasantha Wickrematunge was found guilty of criminally defaming Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1995 article in The Sunday Leader.Wickrematunge was sentenced to two years in jail, suspended for five years.
Government minister Mahinda Wijesekara threatened to kill Lasantha Wickrematunge in Parliament on 27 July 2003, saying: "Very soon I'll put him in a room and have him shot or he will be stabbed to death!"The threat followed the expose of corruption in Wijesekara's ministry.
Lasantha Wickrematunge was threatened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa using abusive language in a telephone call on 11 January 2006.According to Wickrematunge the president had threatened to destroy him saying "Fuck your mother, you son of a bloody whore!...I treated you well all this while. Now I will destroy you". Wickrematunge was detained briefly at Bandaranaike International Airport on 21 February 2006 as he arrived for a flight to Geneva. Airport officials had claimed that Wickrematunge required "special permission" to leave Sri Lanka. In late December 2006 an unsuccessful attempt was made to arrest Lasantha Wickrematunge for "endangering national security" after The Sunday Leader published a report exposing a Rs. 500 million luxury bunker to be built in the presidential complex.
Journalist Arthur Wamanan Sornalingam and his mother were arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department on 24 October 2007 following a complaint from government minister Mano Wijeyeratne.The arrest followed an article in The Sunday Leader which alleged that a government department had paid Wijeyeratne's wife's mobile phone bill. Investigative editor Dilrukshi Handunetti was forced to hand over documents relating to the article to the police. Sornalingam subsequently filed a fundamental rights application with the Supreme Court in relation to the arrest.
On 5 December 2008 a judge ordered Leader Publications not to publish any reports about Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, for two weeks.Gotabhaya had gone to the courts to sue Leader Publications for Rs. 2 billion (€14 million) in damages for publishing "slanderous" reports about him.
Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was shot dead on 8 January 2009.Frederica Jansz became editor of the newspaper following Wickrematunge's murder. On 22 October 2009 Jansz News Editor Munza Mushtaq were sent handwritten death threats through the post. "We will slice you up if you do not stop your writing," the letters threatened. Jansz told Reporters Without Borders Wickrematunge had been sent an identical letter which was compared by a Graphologist who said all three letters were written by the same fist.
The Sunday Leader carried an article on 13 December 2009 entitled "Gota Ordered Them To Be Shot", alleging that Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa ordered the then commander of the 58 Division, Major General Shavendra Silva, to shoot down the surrendering LTTE leaders during the final days of the Sri Lankan Civil War.Sarath Fonseka, the former commander of the Sri Lanka Army, and candidate of the 2010 presidential election who was quoted in the article, initially denied the story, but The Sunday Leader subsequently refuted the denial. The story resulted in Fonseka being charged with ""propagating a false rumour", a violation of emergency regulations. In November 2011 Fonseka was found guilty and sentenced to three years in jail and fined Rs. 5,000.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa threatened Leader Publications chairman Lal Wickrematunge in a phone call on 19 July 2011 after the publication of an article that claimed the president and his son Namal Rajapaksa had received payments from China for use "at their discretion".According to Wickrematunge the president had said: "...if you attack me personally, I will know how to attack you personally too."
Editor Frederica Jansz was threatened and insulted by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in a phone call on 6 July 2012.According to Jansz the Defence Secretary said: "Yes, I threatened you. Your type of journalists are pigs who eat shit!...I will put you in jail!... People will kill you!!! People hate you!!!"
In September 2012 Asanga Seneviratne, an ally of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, bought a 72% stake in The Sunday Leader and its sister newspaper the Iruresa.Seneviratne is managing director of Asia Fort Asset Management (Pvt) Ltd and vice president of Sri Lanka Cricket. He is also president of Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union and controversially appointed President Rajapaksa's son Yoshitha Rajapaksa as captain of the Sri Lanka national rugby union team. The Sunday Leader had published a number of reports exposing Seneviratne's property developments and investment deals. According to editor Frederica Jansz, Seneviratne asked her stop publishing articles critical of the Sri Lankan government and the Rajapaksa family. She refused and on 21 September 2012 she was sacked as editor. Jansz was replaced by Sakuntala Perera as editor of The Sunday Leader. Seneviratne denies Jansz claims.
In 2015 May, The Sunday Leader tendered an unconditional apology to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for a series of articles regarding the purchase of MIG 27 airplanes for the Sri Lanka Air Force.
In 2018 October, The Sunday Leader newspaper and website have suspended operation due to the political turmoil in Sri Lanka after the removal of the Prime Minister by the President.
The Sunday Leader and its employees have been subject to numerous attacks since its foundation in 1994. Lasantha Wickrematunge was assaulted on his way home in 1994.On 7 February 1995 Lasantha Wickrematunge and his ex-wife were pulled from their car and beaten. On the night of 18 June 1998 Lasantha Wickrematunge's house in Nugegoda was attacked with Type 56 assault rifles causing extensive damage and narrowly missing Wickrematunge's driver. The attack came after The Sunday Leader exposed irregular financial dealings between Minister of Posts, Telecommunication and the Media Mangala Samaraweera and Sri Lanka Telecom CEO Kamitsumo.
Two photographers for The Sunday Leader, Lakmal Spencer and Ashoka Fernando, were amongst a group of media personnel who were attacked by the police as they covered an opposition rally in Colombo on 15 July 1999.The two men filed a fundamental rights application with the Supreme Court and in October 2001 they were awarded damages of Rs. 86,625 and Rs. 72,750.
On the night of 16 October 2005 armed men entered the printing press of Leader Publications, threatened the manager with "dire consequences" if the newspapers continued to be printed and then set fire to bundles of newspapers.The attack came after The Sunday Leader had published an article which alleged that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had misappropriated tsunami relief funds.
The printing press of Leader Publications in Ratmalana was burnt down on 21 November 2007 by a group of armed masked men who entered the building, poured petrol on the printing machines and set fire to them.The attack came after The Morning Leader had been critical of the Asian Tribune's relationship with a government backed paramilitary group.
Lasantha Wickrematunge was shot dead on 8 January 2009 in Colombo.Three days later an editorial appeared in The Sunday Leader written by Wickrematunge before his death in which he predicted his own murder, stating "it will be the government that kills me". Wickrematunge and his newspaper had been highly critical of the government and he had been attacked before. He had been assaulted twice before and his house had been sprayed with machine-gun fire. A number of people including seventeen army personnel were arrested in relation to Wickrematunge's murder but later released. To date no one has been brought to justice for Wickrematunge's murder.
On February 16, 2013 Sunday Leader's Faraz Shauketally, who holds dual British and Sri Lankan citizenship, was rushed to hospital after being shot in the neck. Shauketally was on the phone to a colleague at the Sunday Leader on Friday evening at his home in Mount Lavinia when the call was cut. Shortly afterwards he answered a call and said he had been shot in the neck by three intruders, who had then escaped. President Rajapaksa said he would investigate the incident but nobody was apprehended.
On the 24th of August 2013 Journalist Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema's house was invaded by five armed men who held her at knifepoint as they searched her home before police burst in and shot one of the intruders dead, officials said. Police spokesman Buddhika Siriwardena said three officers were injured when the intruders attacked them with knives. "One intruder was shot dead and the other four have been arrested," he said. Police described the pre-dawn intrusion as an attempted armed robbery but the island's main press freedom organisation, the Free Media Movement (FMM), said they suspected the attack was linked to her work.
Percy Mahinda Rajapaksa, commonly known as Mahinda Rajapaksa, is a Sri Lankan politician serving as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka since 2019, and previously from 2004 to 2005. He served as President of Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2015, as Leader of the Opposition from 2002 to 2004 and 2018 to 2019, and as Minister of Finance from 2005 to 2015 and 2019 to 2021. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kurunegala since 2015.
Mass media of Sri Lanka consist of several different types of communications media: television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and Web sites. State and private media operators provide services in the main languages Sinhala, Tamil and English. The government owns two major TV stations, radio networks operated by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), and newspaper titles in Sinhala, Tamil, and English.
Field Marshal Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, MP, commonly known as Sarath Fonseka, is a Sri Lankan military leader and a member of the parliament. He was the eighteenth Commander of Sri Lankan Army, and under his command the Sri Lankan Army ended the 26-year Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009, defeating the Terrorist group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam; he thereafter briefly served as the Chief of Defence Staff. After retiring from the Army with the rank of General, he entered politics as the common opposition candidate in the 2010 presidential election contesting against President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Lieutenant Colonel Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, RWP, RSP, psc, GR is a Sri Lankan politician and former military officer currently serving as the 8th President of Sri Lanka since 2019. He has previously served as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development from 2005 to 2015 under the administration of his elder brother former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, leading the Sri Lankan Armed Forces to the military defeat of the Tamil Tigers, which ended the Sri Lankan Civil War.
Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam is a Sri Lankan journalist. He was detained by the Terrorism Investigation Division of the Sri Lanka Police on 7 March 2008. He was held without charge for almost 6 months. He was indicted on politically motivated charges under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act for intending to incite communal hatred through writing, and furthering terrorist acts through the collection of money for his publication. On 31 August 2009 he was convicted of the charges by the Colombo High Court and sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment.
Iruresa is a Sinhala language Sri Lankan weekly newspaper published by Lithira Publications (Private) Limited, part of Leader Publications (Private) Limited. It was founded in 1994 and is published from Colombo. Its sister newspapers are The Sunday Leader and the defunct The Morning Leader. Founded by brothers Lasantha Wickrematunge and Lal Wickrematunge, the newspaper is known for its outspoken and controversial news coverage.
Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge was a Sri Lankan journalist, politician and human rights activist who was assassinated in January 2009.
Presidential elections were held in Sri Lanka on 26 January 2010. The elections were announced on 23 November 2009 when incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to seek a fresh mandate prior to the expiration of his term in 2011. Nominations were accepted on 17 December 2009.
Lal Wickrematunge is a Sri Lankan business man, media mogul and chairman of Leader Publications which he co-founded with brother Lasantha Wickrematunge. Wickrematunge is the son of Harris Wickrematunge former deputy mayor of Colombo.
Frederica Jansz is a Sri Lankan journalist and former editor of The Sunday Leader.
The White Flag Case is a court case in which the former Sri Lankan Army chief Sarath Fonseka was prosecuted for an interview which he gave to Frederica Jansz, editor of the Sunday Leader, in which he is stated to have said that surrendering Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres were executed and not allowed to surrender on the orders of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He was convicted and jailed for 3 years imprisonment for that interview. A three bench court, in which Deepali Wijesundera was one of three judges of Colombo High Court trial-at-bar, delivered the verdict.
The Sunday Standard was an English-language weekly newspaper in Sri Lanka published by Standard Newspapers (Private) Limited, part of Communication and Business Equipment (Private) Limited (CBE). It was founded in 2007 and was published from Colombo. Its sister newspaper was the ‘’Mawbima’’.
Freedom of the press in Sri Lanka is guaranteed by Article 14(1)(a) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka which gives every citizen "the freedom of speech and expression including publication". Despite this there is widespread suppression of the media, particularly those critical of the government. Sri Lanka is ranked 165 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders's Press Freedom Index for 2014. Freedom House has judged the Sri Lankan press to be not free. During the civil war Sri Lanka was one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist. The civil war ended in May 2009 but, according to Reporters Without Borders, murders, physical attacks, kidnappings, threats and censorship continues and that senior government officials, including the defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, are directly implicated.
The White Flag incident is the massacre of surrendering leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and their families by the Sri Lankan Army on 18 May 2009 in Mullivaikal, Mullaitivu, Vanni, Sri Lanka. The LTTE's Political Wing leader, Balasingham Nadesan and Pulidevan agreed to surrender and contacted the United Nations, the governments of Norway, United Kingdom, United States and the International Committee of the Red Cross. They were given assurance by Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, and told to surrender at a particular place by Basil Rajapakse. LTTE's request for a third party witness to oversee the surrender was not granted by the Sri Lankan government. The LTTE surrendered to the 58 Division carrying White flags and were reportedly shot dead. Sarath Fonseka, then the Sri Lankan Army Chief stated that they had been shot dead on the orders of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to Shavendra Silva, Commander of the 58 Division. Balachandran Prabhakaran, Nadesan's son, was also killed after surrendering along with his bodyguards. a UN Panel states the LTTE leaders intended to surrender. The Sri Lankan government has denied any accusations of wrongdoing.
Sri Ranga Jeyaratnam is a Sri Lankan Tamil broadcaster, politician and former Member of Parliament.
Events from the year 2012 in Sri Lanka.
Presidential elections were held in Sri Lanka on 8 January 2015, two years ahead of schedule. The incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the United People's Freedom Alliance's candidate, seeking a third term in office. The United National Party (UNP)-led opposition coalition chose to field Maithripala Sirisena, the former Minister of Health in Rajapaksa's government and general secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) – the main constituent party of the UPFA – as its common candidate.
Dr. Mahinda Balasuriya was the 32nd Inspector General of the Sri Lanka Police (IGP) (2009–2011).
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