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Editor of Sri Lanka’s Sunday Leader sacked after takeover

Frederica Jansz, the editor of the anti-government Sri Lankan weekly The Sunday Leader, has quit her post after the paper was taken over by a wealthy investor who wanted to change the publication’s editorial policies.

Ms Jansz said her credibility as a journalist was put at risk by the paper’s new owners.

Asanga Seneviratne – a gifted rugby player turned asset manager and hotelier said to be an associate of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse – reportedly took a 72% stake in the newspaper and had asked the editorial team to cease being critical of the Rajapakse administration.

The Sunday Leader is renowned for investigating corruption in government and being critical of the policies of the Rajapakse regime.  

Most recently, Ms Jansz was engaged in a media battle with Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse – the president’s younger brother – over the use of a government aircraft to transport a puppy from Switzerland.

Lasantha Wickrematunga, the previous editor of the paper, was gunned down in broad daylight by masked assailants who have never been caught.

His last editorial – published after his death – implicated the government in his assassination.

Ms Janz told the BBC that she was asked to “curb her style of writing and compromise her credibility” but when she refused, her contract was terminated.

News organizations critical of the government have been routinely targeted; a number of journalists have gone missing while others have fled the country.

– UKAsian Staff

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