Swiss decry ‘attack’ on local embassy employee in Sri Lanka

International

GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland’s foreign ministry said Thursday that unidentified men seized a local employee of the Swiss Embassy in Sri Lanka’s capital and threatened her “at length” to force her to disclose diplomatic information.

The ministry said Swiss authorities have demanded an investigation into the “very serious and unacceptable attack” on Monday and expressed their concerns to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The ministry said in an emailed statement that “a local employee of the embassy was detained against her will on the street and threatened at length by unidentified men in order to force her to disclose embassy-related information.”

The ministry did not specify whether the employee handed over any information or provide any details about how she was detained.

The ministry has summoned Sri Lanka’s ambassador over the incident.

Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said it took “serious note of the alleged criminal incident” and that it was being investigated by police.

“In order to enable the relevant authorities to conduct the investigation smoothly and according to established procedure, the fullest cooperation of the Embassy of Switzerland has been requested,” it said in a statement.

A Sri Lankan police investigator, Nishantha Silva, recently fled to Switzerland following the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as president on Nov. 16.

Silva had been investigating alleged abductions, torture, killings and enforced disappearances of critical journalists and activists when Rajapaksa was a top defense official under his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was accused of overseeing what were known as “white van” abduction squads that whisked away critics.

Separately, the head of the Criminal Investigations Department, which was investigating allegations against the previous Rajapaksa government, was transferred in what appeared to be a demotion.

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