Australia seeks info on Gunaratnam

The Australian government says it is in touch with the family of Premakumar Gunaratnam, an Australian citizen, who has been reported missing in Sri Lanka, The Australian newspaper reported.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spokeswoman says the Australian High Commissioner in Colombo has spoken to senior Sri Lankan government officials to advise them of concerns for Mr Gunaratnam’s welfare and to request assistance in locating him.

Consular officers in Canberra are in contact with the man’s family in Australia, she said.

“We are seeking urgent clarification on the situation from the Sri Lankan authorities,” the spokeswoman said.

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Canberra Thisara Samarasinghe said the Sri Lankan government categorically denies allegations public authorities have kidnapped the man.

“We don’t have kidnapping by our government,” Mr Samarasinghe said.

He said the Sri Lankan government had no record of an Australian passport holder of Mr Gunaratnam’s name entering Sri Lanka in the recent past.

“Did he get into the country illegally and did he break the law of the land?” he said.

Mr Samarasinghe said he was seeking clarification from the Australian government through official channels.

He said Colombo police had not received any missing persons report about Mr Gunaratnam.

“We will be looking into this complaint and establish the identity of this person,” Mr Samarasinghe said.

Mr Samarasinghe said he could understand the worry of the man’s family.

“We are looking to see if their information is credible,” he said.

He denied that Sri Lanka had “secret police.”

Gunaratnam, 42, from NSW, has been missing since late last week from Kiribathigodaj, a commercial hub on the Colombo-Kandy Road.

He is a political activist with the People’s Struggle Movement in Sri Lanka.

His wife, Champa Somaratna, says she fears for his life following reports from neighbours that he has been abducted.

“We know the secret police have taken him,” Ms Somaratna told ABC Radio.

“This is a life and death matter, I’m really worried.”

She has called for the federal government to intervene.

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