Channel 4 Correspondent expelled from Sri Lanka

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The Sri Lankan government has ordered Channel 4 News's Asia Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh to leave the country, after taking exception to a report broadcast on Channel 4 News on 5th May
Sunday, May 10th, 2009
Nick Paton Walsh

Nick Paton Walsh was part of a three-person team that has been reporting from the country for Channel 4 News since April 19th. All three were told they were being deported by the country's Defence Secretary earlier today.

In a statement, the British Foreign Office said: "This is a deeply disappointing decision when the case for more transparency, not less, is overwhelming."

They have been covering the conflict between Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamil Tigers who have been forced back into a narrow strip of land on the eastern side of the island.

In a report on Tuesday 5th May, featuring the first material shot independently in an internment camp run by the Sri Lankan army, Channel 4 News broadcast interviews with aid workers who claimed there had been ill-treatment of Tamil civilians interned in a camp in the north of the country.   

The aid workers said that children were being separated from their parents in the camps and dead bodies were being left out in the open for days, as people fought for food and water.

And they also said that women were being sexually humiliated, being forced to bathe publicly and sometimes abducted by soldiers.

Nick Paton Walsh gave his own account of the expulsion in a report for Channel 4 News tonight.

"The Defence Secretary, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, expressed his upset at the piece we ran. He was angry and said we would be deported as a result of that piece.

He said we could say what we liked about what's happening in this country, but we would have to do it in our own country"

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ITN, which produces Channel 4 News, issued a statement tonight saying;

We can confirm that a Channel 4 News reporting team has been told to leave Sri Lanka after reporting allegations of abuse and ill-treatment of Tamils held in internment camps.

Channel 4 News Asia Correspondent Nick Paton-Walsh,  his cameraman and producer, have been ordered to leave the country by the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary

Their original report, broadcast on Channel 4 News on 5th May, contained the first independently filmed video from one of the internment camps in the city of Vavuniya in the north of Sri Lanka. The report contained claims that dead bodies were left where they fell, shortages of food and water, and sexual abuse. The Sri Lankan government denied these allegations. 

A spokesperson for ITN said: "We will be seeking an explanation from the Sri Lankan government for this decision.".

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Channel 4 © 2009.