Sri Lanka’s former president Chandrika Kumaratunga has charged President Mahinda Rajapaksa with subjecting her to “illegal and unconstitutional” surveillance.

Ms. Kumaratunga has said that the government’s activities have violated her privacy, causing her much harassment and concern regarding her safety, in a detailed letter to him dated March 5. The President’s secretary Lalith Weeratunga on Friday denied the charges in an equally elaborate letter.

Emphasising her concerns over safety, Ms. Kumaratunga in her letter said: “Taking into consideration the prevailing practice of destroying anyone who is considered a threat to the higher authorities of your Government, by means of murder, ‘disappearances’, physical attacks, I have serious reasons to be concerned about my safety.” Charging that the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) paid visits to her friends, Ms. Kumaratunga has said that the NIB officials also made several enquiries with those she visited in recent times.

In addition to shining the spotlight on reportedly continued surveillance in the country nearly five years after its civil war ended, the letter assumes significance as members of the United Nations Human Rights Council get ready to vote on a United States-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka in a week.

A section of the local media released the contents of the letter on Thursday. However Ms. Kumaratunga’s office – which The Hindu contacted on Thursday to verify – declined comment on the development.