Sri Lanka on Friday sealed an office from which two pro-opposition news websites operated, arrested nine workers and seized computers and documents. A court order enabled the sealing. “The websites continuously targeted celebrities and well-known personalities, propagated false news and unethical news, and misled international and local communities,” the Daily News quoted Director-General, Media Centre for National Security, Lakshman Hulugalle as saying.

The main opposition United National Party, which owns the websites — www.srilankamirror.com and www.srilankaxnews.com — described the action as “witch-hunt” against the media.

The United States Embassy said it was “closely following the case”. “We have raised on several occasions our deep concern over efforts to suppress independent news media, including the blocking of news websites, intimidation, and disappearances of journalists. The United States believes that an uncensored and independent media available to all citizens is an indispensable part of any vibrant democracy.”

Last year, www.srilankamirror.com and four other websites were blocked. The matter went to the Supreme Court following which the sites were allowed to function, with riders.

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