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Sri Lanka to seek Chinese help to probe ‘assassination plot’

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Officials reach out to Huawei to recover data from a phone.

Sri Lankan authorities will seek Chinese assistance to tap evidence pertaining to an “assassination plot” said to be targeting President Maithripala Sirisena.

On Tuesday, Sri Lankan police won permission from a magistrate court here to approach Chinese multinational Huawei for technical expertise to recover data from a phone manufactured by it. The phone belongs to Namal Kumara, a police informant, who in September claimed to be aware of an assassination plot aimed at President Sirisena and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

According to a Reuters report, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials on Tuesday told the court that some data on Mr. Kumara’s phone had been deleted. They asked for permission to approach manufacturer Huawei to retrieve it. The court cleared their request.

Indian national

The same day, M. Thomas, an Indian national who was arrested in Sri Lanka on September 22 on suspicion of involvement in the plot, appeared in court. Earlier, Colombo-based officials had said the individual, from Kerala, appeared to be mentally “unstable”.

When local media reported the possible link of an Indian national to the plot at that time, Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera denied the news as a “disinformation campaign”.

On Wednesday, media reports, including one in the State-run Daily News, said Mr. Thomas cited “death threats” from the CID. He asked to be shifted out of the CID’s custody, but the magistrate denied his request, sources said. He gave a written statement and was later referred to the Judicial Medical Officer by the magistrate.

Last week, reports of the assassination plot escalated political tension within Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition. Following reports including in The Hindu about Mr. Sirisena’s alleged remark at a cabinet meeting, accusing India’s intelligence agency of involvement, the Sri Lankan government denied them as being “false and baseless”.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 10:16:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/sri-lanka-to-seek-chinese-help-to-probe-assassination-plot/article25313155.ece

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