Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Channel 4 producer denied entry to Sri Lanka

A senior executive at Channel 4 has been denied entry to Sri Lanka.

Stuart Cosgrove and his wife Shirani Sabaratnam were turned away at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo because of the Lankan government's displeasure at a Channel 4 documentary alleging the country's armed forced had committed war crimes.

Mr Cosgrove, 59, is the head of Creative Diversity at Channel 4 while Mrs Sabaratnam is a Commissioning Editor for UKTV.

The couple are said to have been the driving force behind the airing of 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields' documentary, which alleged widespread rights abuses by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces during the final days of the country's bloody civil conflict in 2009.

Channel 4 confirmed Mr Cosgrove had been denied entry to Sri Lanka on Wednesday but insisted that the Glasgow-based executive had no role in the production of Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields.

A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said: “Stuart Cosgrove’s passport and visa were both valid but his passport was rejected on a technicality on arrival in Sri Lanka – as the middle name on his new passport did not match the one on his visa.

“He and his wife were not granted entry to the country and are now on their way back to the UK.”
An unnamed official in charge of immigration told the BBC that the incident "was not a deportation" and that Mr Cosgrove had merely been "instructed to leave".

The official told the BBC the reason for the denied entry was "because they are from Channel 4, which without reason has harmed Sri Lanka's reputation".

Speaking at the time of the original broadcast, the Sri Lanka High Commission said: “The Government of Sri Lanka categorically denies the allegations that it has deliberately targeted its own civilians, as the Channel 4 alleges in its film Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields".

- Viji Alles

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