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Govt. draws fire for seizing Hiru TV drone

The Hiru TV drone, which recorded and transmitted aerial pictures of the Hambantota protest and police crackdown on Saturday, had been launched about two kilometres away from the place where Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other dignitaries were present, News Director of Asia Broadcasting Corporation Sudeva Hettiarachchi said yesterday.

Hettiarachchi argued that there had been no need for the Prime Minister’s Security Division (PMSD) to grab the drone which posed no threat to anyone.

The drone was given back to Hiru TV on Saturday evening by the prime minister’s security officers minus the memory chip.

Hettiarachi, contacted for comment again last night, said the chip, too, had been returned, but it was too early to say whether it contained all the data recorded during the Hambantota protest.

Hettiarachchi said Director General of Government Information Ranga Kalansooriya had promised to ensure that the chip containing aerial pictures Director General of Government Information Ranga Kalansooriya, contacted for comment, said the drone had been taken into custody by PMSD as it was in the sky several hours without an owner.

"We will have to introduce guidelines for the sue of drones in the future," he said adding that according to the civil aviation law of the country it needed the approval from the Ministry of Defence to use a drone.

Asked whether any action would be taken agains those who seized the drone owned by a media organisation, Kalansooriya said no decision had been taken in that regard.

Issuing a statement, Free Media Movement (FMM) condemned the incident and demanded an inquiry yesterday.

"This is a violation of rights of journalists and people’s right to know," she said.
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