COLOMBO, July 2 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan government on Monday insisted that the local media are not being suppressed despite a police raid on the office of a news website last week.
Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the authorities cannot allow media freedom to be abused and in the process ruin the lives of individuals.
Both the embassies of the United States and the European Union in Sri Lanka had over the weekend raised concerns over the raid on the office of the Sri Lanka Mirror news website and the subsequent arrest of its staff including several journalists.
The pro-opposition website was raided over allegations it published false and malicious news and a court case was filed against it.
Rambukwella told Xinhua that the international community must be mindful of the implications publishing false news could have on the lives of individuals.
"Forget politicians. One can say they are public figures. But you have stories about individuals as well which damages their family life and so one. So when you say media freedom we can't just sit back and let someone ruin someone else's life," he said.
He said the government has also made it mandatory for news websites operating in Sri Lanka to be registered so that those websites can be held responsible if they publish false or damaging news.
"I would say a good percentage of journalists in Sri Lanka act with responsibility but there are a handful who not only tarnish the image of others but also in the process the image of the media as a whole," he said.
The official news website of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) was also operating from the premises of the same office which was raided last week.
However Rambukwella insisted that the police raid was not carried out on political grounds.
Opposition legislator Mangala Samaraweera, under who the UNP website was operating, said he will go to court over the police raid.