Alleged audio tape of MR-Lasantha telephone conversation leaked

Tuesday, 20 December 2016 00:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Dharisha Bastians

A leaked audio tape has emerged, apparently between former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sunday Leader founder Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was brutally murdered in Colombo in January 2009.

The audio, presumed to be a leak from a phone tap ordered on Lasantha’s mobile number by the Rajapaksa administration itself, was exclusively uploaded on the news website

The website does not offer any further information with regard to the origins of the leak, although sources said the audio could only have emerged from intelligence archives or the newspaper’s own records. A full version of the recorded telephone call will be published online with further details in the next few days, the sources added. 

The 10-minute conversation reveals the relationship between Wickrematunge and Rajapaksa, one the former editor’s associates say goes back many years to when the former President was a Minister in the Chandrika Kumaratunga administration.

Based on events discussed during the leaked phone conversation, it appears to have taken place sometime in 2008, about three years into Rajapaksa’s first term. The leaked audio distorts sections of the conversation referring to other individuals and companies. According to the audio tape, parts of the conversation revolves around high ranking military officials and discussions that had taken place at the National Security Council that Rajapaksa chaired as Commander in Chief.

Wickrematunge also proffers advice to the former President about corruption in the ranks of his administration, issuing presentiment warnings about how that was the biggest problem facing the Rajapaksa presidency. 

In response, the former President urges the Sunday Leader editor to print information about the perpetrators, to give him reason to sideline and take action against them.

Lasantha Wickrematunge was killed in Attidiya on his way to work on 8 January 2009, at the height of the war and just five months before the Rajapaksa Government defeated the LTTE. He was the most senior journalist to be murdered in Sri Lanka, with international media watchdogs ranking the country as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists during Rajapaksa’s nine-year rule.

Wickrematunge’s newspaper stood out as a strong critic of the Rajapaksa Administration’s war against the LTTE, consistently raising concerns about human rights violations and the brutal tactics being employed in the embattled regions during the Government’s push against the Tigers. In the months preceding his death, Wickrematunge published a series of exposes on an allegedly corrupt deal to purchase MiG 29 aircraft for the Sri Lankan military.