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Dharisha Bastians says CID officers searched her residence & seized her computer

A former Editor of the Sunday Observer has raised fears that attempts might be made to compromise data on her laptop which was seized by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

Dharisha Bastians, who is also a correspondent for the New York Times, said that for several months now her name has been linked to an ongoing criminal investigation into an alleged abduction that took place in November 2019.

She said that in connection with this investigation, the Criminal Investigation Department has questioned her associates and former colleagues specifically regarding her electronic devices.

In a statement issued on her twitter account, Bastians said that on the 29th of May 2020 and the 4th of June 2020, officials from the Criminal Investigation Department arrived at her home in Colombo and made efforts to seize her personal laptop computer without a warrant.

“We obtained legal assistance and my family informed the CID officials that the device could not be handed over without a court order,” she said.

Bastians said that on June 9th, 2020 five CID officials arrived at her residence in Colombo with a warrant to search the house.

“The officers searched the entire house including bedrooms, my desk and my work space. Photographs were taken during the visit. My computer was found, seized and sealed. A receipt was provided for the laptop, the power adapter and the laptop bag. Statements were recorded from family members residing at my home,” she said.

Bastians said that on a previous occasion in the course of the same investigation, the CID obtained her Call Data Records without a court order, scrutinized them and subsequently exposed the information.

“As a journalist, I was horrified at the public exposure of my telephone records, which could seriously endanger and compromise my sources and contacts, then, now and in the future. I am willing to cooperate with any investigation by appropriate law enforcement agencies and I am confident the CID will find nothing incriminating in the analysis of my computer. But under the prevailing circumstances, I remain gravely concerned about potential efforts by interested parties to compromise the integrity of hardware, software, data and documents of the laptop and any other electronic material/devices belonging to me, obtained by law enforcement,” she said.

Bastians said that she is placing her faith in Sri Lanka’s judiciary, to ensure due process is followed with regard to her computer which is now in the custody of the CID, particularly because it is a device she once used in her work as a journalist.

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