Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
  • Help
  • Text only
Last updated: 29 August, 2007 - Published 12:36 GMT
Email to a friend Printable version
Forum: Athas 'under threat'
Iqbal Athas
Govt. launched judicial and parliamentary probes after Athas' revelations
International media watchdogs have expressed concern over removing security provided to Sunday Times journalist, Iqbal Athas.

In a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it is alarmed by grave threats made against the veteran defence columnist.

Athas "has come under extraordinary pressure following his investigations into irregularities surrounding a 2006 deal to purchase MiG-27 fighter jets from Ukraine," the letter stated.

 Athas has come under extraordinary pressure following his investigations into irregularities surrounding a 2006 deal to purchase MiG-27 fighter jets from Ukraine
CPJ letter to President Rajapaksa

Five Sri Lankan media organisations also urged the authorities to restore security provided to Athas as his life is in danger after the government decided to remove his security last week.

Sri Lanka government launched judiciary and parliamentary probes over alleged corruption in military purchases after Iqbal Athas reveled them in Sunday Times.

Have your say:

Thank you Mr.Athas for providing valuble information, important for all of us.You speak Tamil @ understand very well,so please find out kind of things from LTTE which are very important not for you and me but for our grand children
Gamini Abeyratne, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Removal security off Mr. Iqbal Athas who is a great Muslim Journalist in Sri Lanka clearly shows the weakness of the highpower Muslim ministers in the Cabinet. I strongl condemn the silence of the Muslim politions' while our community members are harressed. These politietions are cancers of the Goverment.
M.S.M.Niyas, Kalubowila,Sri Lanka

Reading the reviews i came to the conclusion that for Sri Lankans, everything is just black and white nowadays.Either you are with us or against us.Condemn our faults, then you are the enemy.Call to attention certain questionable practices of politicians, and you become an LTTE supporter.Simple isn't it? How naive we Sri Lankans can be!How naive to think Sri Lanka is blessed with politicians who are not corrupt!Do your job right Athas, security or no security.
Yusuf Ahmed, San Bernardino, USA

athas is trater secutiy of country is main thing not athas life .athas is another one human in sri lanka but govt have protect entier sri lanka if some kill he murdera but if some one kill or bomb enteier nation and high profile places and persons he will become a hero do not forget sri lankaan air force need air power to fight with ltte .ther is another arms deal investigation is going onn in british govt and saudi govt but pattrotic british media didnt act like athas they know what they are doing better than athas.not aoly athas his grate grand fathers also done this they are not loyal to country they are traters .he only one person govt have think about country security not athats personal security. he is pro ltte pet.
Primson Stanley, UK

Iqbal athas also a pro ltte propaganda agent he is doing his job perfecly this not first time arms done buy sri lankan govt the preveius govt done the same thing ,main idea is mr athas role in media pump fresh blood for dieing ltte ,at last iqbal also is living in sri lanka but he not loyal to sri lanka is loyal end of the he is minor majority in sri lanka he stand for special people like always stand for them self not for the country .wher windy he is on that side.athas is odernary person he dont need special guard people who need special who try to protect that country not sell that country .
Stanley de Livera, UK

All of you have missed the IMPORTANT point here. Who gives defence related information to I.Athas.. its the folks at the defence dept. who wears the uniform to protect the nation of Srilanka. They see the corruptions of politicians and defence dept higher ups, who in the name of defending the nation buying old & unusable militery procuments to line up their pockets and drain the treasury while depriving the innocent civilians. They the brave few officers who care for the nation inform I.Athas.. who in turn writes in a cloumn to inform all. So while debating the protection of I.Athas, all are overlooking the well being of the nation at the hands of few corrupted individuals.

Iqbal Athas is a journalist working for the Sunday Times newspaper owned by Ranil Wickramasinghe's uncle. He should be free to write and publish articles critcizing the government, in order to earn his succor. But that does not mean that the government should provide him security at the tax payers' expense when he claims that he is receiving grave threats. After all he is an ordinary citizen, as far as the government is concerned. It is the duty of his employer Ranjith Wijewardhana, to provide security for him if he is receiving threats, as claimed by him. Imagine how much it would cost the taxpayer if the government were to provide security to every journalist in Sri Lanka, who claims that he is receiving threats.

Why is Athas so important? What about the many others who have lost their lives for standing up against the racist dream of a Tamil-only state? What about the hundreds of men women and children who have been killed and maimed by the LTTE?
Sarath Gunasinghe, Australia

It was sad to see some opinions from Ms. Dimutu Karunaratne from Italy & Mr.Nishantha Kirihena from Qatar. These people must know who is Mr. Iqbal Athas. He is the most senior and independent defence reporter in Sri lanka.He not only criticised Mahinda Rajapaksa's govt. according to my memory,I can remember he criticised past governments of J.R.Jayawardhana, R. Premadasa, Chandrika Bandaranaike & also Ranil Wickremesinghe's regime. COME ON ATHAS.DON'T STOP YOUR PEN.
Athul, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Athas may be a good journalist. I don't think government should provide security every individual who, work in media or every retired plitician like chandrika. This is our country, please don't worry about individual protection. Think about the protection of the country. All sri lankan's rise against terrorism.
Shan Roy, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Having read some of the views on this matter, I can clearly see why Sri Lanka will not achieve peace or progress. How can people even say that "this is his own wish. He must find his own security"? If not for journalists like Mr.Athas, Most of Sri Lanka and the International community would be in the dark as to the corruption of the government be it UNP SLFP ar any other!People like him should be commended and given the encouragement to expose the dealings of the politicians.
Dushy, London

Who told him to be a journalist. who did tell him to write defence columns. This is entirely his own wish. If he writes against SL govt or controversial articles he must find his own security.why Sri Lankan government should give him security? In the first place they should not do that. Government made the mistake giving him security. Did he pay for that?
Janaka Alahapperuma, London, UK

Poor Sri Lankans day to day die in dozens each governments fool people fill there pockets who ever critizise will be eliminated now no controll over these killings from JVP,in 1971 starrted killing JR continued again JVP started with harshs killed thousands and now like good people they are sleeping in the parliment and someone like athas when finds out these illegal transaction and put to people what is happening this is the final results.Do you think this is politices or betrayel or heroiesm.
Jiggs Joseph, Milano, Italy

Here we go again. GOSL as usual is trying to shoot the messenger rather than finding the truth in the message. GOSL action is enough proof to confirm Iqbal athas's report on Mig Scandal.It amply confirms that these deals were made by some powerful sections in the government. Hats off for all those Journalists in SL who risk their precious lives to uncover the truth to masses.
Raj, Toronto, Canada

 GOSL as usual is trying to shoot the messenger rather than finding the truth in the message. GOSL action is enough proof to confirm Iqbal athas's report on Mig Scandal.It amply confirms that these deals were made by some powerful sections in the government. Hats off for all those Journalists in SL who risk their precious lives to uncover the truth to masses
Raj, Toronto, Canada

The GOSL has been playing communal issues to the ignorant Sinhala masses. If only they realise if not for journalists like Iqbal Athas the country would now be totally bankrupt. The LTTE is laughing all the way to the bank.
Sue, London, UK

Sri Lanka is still a republic and the government is still elected by its citizens. I am also reading that elected officials and their sidekicks are acting as it is their duty to the people to loot the treasury and fatten-up their pocketbooks, and bulldoze anyone get in their way, while in the act. If Athas doesnt have legitimate reason to have security, I question why the GOSL is providing it to distance relatives of officials.
Rohan Gunaratne, Savage, USA

Very soon Sri lankan journalists will have to wear body armor to write anything everything against the ruling parties.Its Sad successive governments have used jouranlists has their pawns to fulfill their whims and fancies. Iqi is the only journalist in Sri Lanka who has been able to bring out malpractices within the government to tell the public what's going on behind the curtains. Now its the time the entire nation came together to support people like Iqi and lets bring down the corrupted governments down and send all those politicians involved in corrupt deals to the gallows. If not Sri lanka will be a 3rd world country forever.
Black Panther, US

It is observed that lot many views are stated but I feel that if there is no journalist like Iqbal Athas in Sri Lanka government could have their own way of destruction of the country through corruption. Present day politician in Sri Lanka cannot be compared by the honest politician like DS Senanayake who reportedly had Rs 48 in his account when he died. In the contradictory they have million not on rupees but dollers.
Shan Fernando, Liberia

 Both the BBC and Athas are pro LTTE. That is the truth
Peter, Australia

Both the BBC and Athas are pro LTTE. That is the truth.
Peter, Australia

Security of Iqbal Athas, who is a well-known journalist in that profession, has been withdrawn promptly just after he revealed the secret the MIG deal which has much to do with fraud and corruption. As he has done his peculiar job, which most of jounrnalist failed to do, his life is in danger at present. This matter should be raised by the international community to exert a pressure on the government thereby ensuring the right of journalism.
Aboobaker Rameez, Kalmunai, Sri Lanka

This man is a joker who writs his defence analysis from Colombo and I dont think he has never sighted a battlefield. There is absolutely no need to give undue prominance to his writings.
Bandara N

We always interested in reading Iqbal Athas's defence articles. He is a great journalist in our country. But when he write something it should not affect the national security of the war affected country. Anyhow it is the duty of the Sri Lankan government to provide scurity for mr. Athas. Dayaratne Bandara, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The only surviving investigative journalist with integrity in sri lanka needs protection and we do not want another Sivaram alias Taraki type killing.Iqbal must be protected at any cost.
Pearl Thevanayakam, London, UK

BBC is talking about others right. How about the rights of innocent civilian britain killed. boh in sri Lanka and india. How about the innocent civilions LTTE kill, with the training provided by the british government. How dare you even encourage terrorists to kill innocent people and now have a forum for one journalist. BBC, brtain both the same. you have two faces. Terrorism in your idiotic country should be wiped out, and help the terrorists to destroy this smal island. How cruel is that.
Shan Roy, Kandy, Sri Lanka

MiG-29 fighter jet
Iqbal's security was removed after he revealed corruption in purchasing MiG-27 jets

ATHAS must be protected at any post.If any thing happens to him SL govt shouldbe responsible.
Nalin, Gampaha, Sri Lanka

This was a joke done UNP. They are doing dirty politics. Journalist like BBC helps them.
Dimuthu Karunaratne, Genova, Italy

Simple theory, You critizise the government, and the government just once question you, then the whole world start telling "he is under thret" GOSL can procure Fighter Planes only from Ukraine and Israel. Althoug USA, UK & France talk a lot about war against terror and terrorism they have never sold or at least donated a single combat aircraft. This so called jounalist Athas has no work these days other than talking about MIG issue, and why a jounalist need security 24 hour?

The present GOSL is doing the best and is the one we have been waiting for so lond to wipe out LTTE terrorism from SL. At this moment rather than giving your fullest support these poeple trying to jeaporadise every thing? Did British questiend Sir.Vincent Chirchil when he was fighting the Natzi's? People like Athas are not journalists, they are Betrayers!!!
Nishantha Kirihena, Doha, Quatar

This is simply another tactic used by the state to silence its detractors. Regardless of the government in power, it has always resorted to these types of intimidation as an overt threat will bring about international condemnation. Iqbal Athas has, in my opinion, been a very conscientious journalist who reports factually correct stories. The fact that these stories antagonise the government is a testament to the validity of his claims. Regardless of the fact that he may or may not be a credible journalist, it does not give any government the right to intimidate any individual.
Sanka Manawadu, USA

People like Athas are the true heroes of this country - the threat to his life was very real even when he had security but he continued to write the truth, exposing everyone from the various political parties to all the security forces and the terrorists. If anything happens to him the present Government, the Armed Forces and Police will not only be responsible but the blame from International Community who knows him quite well will fall on our country!
Mehran Wahid, Dehiwala, Sri Lanka

Not only the 'TAMIL Journalists',but also the singala journalists were in danger in Sri Lanka. This is only there are critic of the government of Rajapaksa.
Pradeep Kumar, London, UK

This threatening and removal of security is not a coincidence at all.This government and president has very short time period to rule this country.May triple gem bless all impartial journalists.
Suresh, Sri Lanka

 This threatening and removal of security is not a coincidence at all.This government and president has very short time period to rule this country.May triple gem bless all impartial journalists.
Suresh, Sri Lanka

A county's military should not be confronted by the media. However, journalists have the responsibility to report any miscarriages of justice among the Armed forces. On the other hand a media trial will seriously undermine the countries armed forces. This is just another attempt that the media is trying to go over the top!
Jaye, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka

This has become a major issue for the BBC. It shows how BBC is biased to LTTE and their sympathisers. Iqbal Athas has always exaggerated threat to his life.He always wrote in favour of LTTE and demoralised the defence forces.Therefore he has always been in the favoured list of journalist of LTTE. Where is the threat coming from? Definitely not from LTTE.
Vijitha Thalpavila, Sydney, Australia

Its high Time Mahinda Left. Mahinda and his merry clan are destroying the country beyond recognition.
Sen, London, UK

Not just once or twice many occasions like this in srilanka. if you express your freedom of speech you just become another terrorist. I heard people saying in srilanka when I visited 2 months ago "Brother we only open the mouth here in srilanka to eat". This just been proven by journalist like Iqbal Athas. I feel sorry for the country and its people.
Teju Kalaman

Journalist Iqbal Athas' high profile in Sri Lankan journalism maybe drawing larger than life attention. The underlying story here is how various sets of intimidation is being used by GoSL and other actors in conflict, at various levels. This is not a debate about the quality or integrity of his columns. It brings home the point about the importance of life protection that should be given to all citizens of the island. Ordinary people too are facing similar situation at the hands of GoSL, LTTE, armed forces deserters paramilitaries etc. Preservation of rule of law is paramount for the long term security and wealth of all Sri Lankans.
T Kumaran, USA

This is a very serious issue and everyone taking up this issue should be commended. Real independence of a country depends on the independence of the judiciary and the media supported by constructive journalism. We can see what blind patriotism has done to Mr Bushes US in Iraq. Sri Lankans should wake up and not become blinded by the glorious victories of the brave foot soldiers to allow the greedy politicians to fleece the country. It is a duty of the politicians to protect all people against all risks and threats, not just themselves at the expense of the slaving public.
Mohan Peiris, UK

 I cannot believe How the BBC Sinhala service took this as an issue.. whose totally neglected the retaken the Eastern Sri Lanka from terrorist grip. Simply, the hypocrisy of BBC Sandeshaya!
Amila Wicramage, UK

It such pity that great journalist life has been threatened. Where is this government taking Sri Lanka towards? Disappearance , Civilian displacement, and finally media freedom...
Aleem Raheem, Poland

This is not a serious issue! Do we have to supply security just because he is writing a regular poor quality column about defence? There are personalities called them as journalists in Sri Lanka but I hardly believe they are real journalists. Only few hundred copies published but they are pretending their newspapers play a key role in Sri Lanka. I normally read this defence column and its poor quality and try to impose some of own ideas without any concrete evidences on reader.

I cannot believe How the BBC Sinhala service took this as an issue.. whose totally neglected the retaken the Eastern Sri Lanka from terrorist grip. Simply, the hypocrisy of BBC Sandeshaya!
Amila Wickramage, UK

* optional
Your opinion
Disclaimer: The BBC will only use the information you supply for the stated purpose, i.e. to hear your views and, if appropriate, to reply to you or contact you for clarification. Your details will not be given to any other BBC programme or to anyone outside the BBC without your permission. Occasionally, we may wish to contact you to invite your views on developing and enhancing the programme or the website. Please let us know, if you would rather not be contacted for such feedback.
'Restore' Iqbal Athas' security
28 August, 2007 | Sandeshaya
Jaffna not safe for journalists
24 August, 2007 | Sandeshaya
MIG-27 deal legal says Govt.
18 August, 2007 | Sandeshaya
Email to a friend Printable version
  About Us | Contact Us | Programmes | Frequencies
BBC Copyright Logo ^^ Back to top
  Sandeshaya | Highlights | Weather
  BBC News >> | BBC Sport >> | BBC Weather >> | BBC World Service >> | BBC Languages >>
  Help | Contact Us | Privacy statement