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Swiss take umbrage at Sunday newspaper

SWITZERLAND: The editor of a Sunday newspaper and a private TV company had booked into the same hotel as the Sri Lankan delegation in Geneva and had accosted the Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat Dr. Palitha Kohona in the hotel lobby and tried to interview him.

The Sri Lankan delegation requires the privacy of the rather small hotel to prepare for the peace talks but their location had been leaked by irresponsible persons in Colombo, compromising their security and privacy.

The delegation had booked the main conference room in the hotel where peace secretariat employees were working together with members of the Government delegation and there are documents of a sensitive nature.

There are constant meetings taking place in the hotel lobby with the Norwegians and between members of the Sri Lankan delegation and support staff and the presence of the Sunday newspaper and a TV crew within the hotel premises was viewed as an unnecessary infringement of their privacy, security and confidentiality.

The delegation had complained to the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Geneva, Sarala Fernando who had in turn contacted the Swiss authorities.

The immediate reaction of the Swiss authorities had been to throw the Editor and the TV crew out of the hotel and had sought legal opinion. Legal opinion had advised against such a move as being against Swiss law.

The hotel has now arranged separate private dining facilities for the Sri Lankan delegation and a Swiss police officer was also assigned in the hotel lobby on Thursday.

Meanwhile the editor of the Sunday newspaper had threatened to confront Sajin Vaas Gunawardene, coordinating secretary to the President on the grounds that Vaas Gunawardene had instructed members of the Sri Lankan Government delegation not to communicate with the Sunday newspaper.

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