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Sunday Newspaper editor breaches Swiss Criminal Code

SWITZERLAND: The Sri Lankan Sunday Newspaper editor who had booked into the same hotel as the Sri Lankan delegation has breached the Swiss criminal code.

Articles appeared on Saturday in several Sri Lankan newspapers, including Sinhala and Tamil prints about the editor's presence being an intrusion on the privacy and security of the Sri Lankan delegation.

Last evening the editor telephoned me on my mobile phone but I found the line unclear with an echo on the line. I suspected that the editor was trying to unlawfully record our telephone conversation. I found the famous editor in the corridor.

He seem visibly upset, about Saturday's article and informed me that it was all lies and that I should have contacted him and checked the story.

I informed the editor that he was not available and further that I regard the persons who gave me the information relating to the story being of the highest integrity.

I had also informed him that I had seen separate dining facilities being arranged and was personally privy to this fact. I did not inform him that there was a Swiss diplomat also present at that time who spoke to the hotel management to discuss the problem of the editor's presence in the hotel and try to arrange a private dining facility, which was later not made use of because the editor was not frequenting the hotel lobby, regularly.

I inquired from the editor if he had noticed the Swiss police presence in the hotel during the previous day, but the editor dismissed it by stating that there is a similar police presence in the Royal Hotel, where the LTTE is being accommodated.

This statement confirmed to me that the Editor had been to the LTTE hotel, but he seemed oblivious to the inherent dangers to the Sri Lankan state, of him residing in the same hotel as the Sri Lankan delegation and visiting the LTTE in order to secure a story.

The irate editor stated that he was going to sue many persons and that he had statements from both Ambassador Sarala Fernando and the Swiss authorities denying the facts of the Saturday's article. I inquired if he had written statements and the editor responded that he had taped the telephone conversations.

I suggested that Ambassador Sarala Fernando and the Swiss may have denied it, out of diplomatic tact, but the editor who was visibly upset wanted my address presumably to initiate legal proceedings. I provided him with one of y London addresses, but declined to give him my Sri Lankan address.

He inquired if the reason that I was not providing him with my Sri Lankan address was because I considered him as a security threat, but I responded by smiling politely.

The Editor's admission to me that he had recorded telephone conversations with Ambassador Sarala Fernando and the Swiss authorities is a matter of concern.

Under Article 179b of the Swiss Criminal Code, any person who listens in on or records a non-public conversation without permission will be punished by imprisonment or a fine of up to Swfr 40,000 (US$25,000).

Recording of any conversation must be approved by all the persons taking part in it.

The above law is in force in the United Kingdom as well as the European Union. The editor seems unaware that he was on Swiss territory and in breach of the Swiss Criminal Code.

I wondered as to how the editor was going to sue all and the sundry based on evidence secured unlawfully in breach of the Swiss criminal code, while on Swiss territory. But then this editor is a Sri Lankan qualified lawyer, and I am sure he knows best.



Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Sri Lanka

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