SLPI denies Norwegian media trainer’s alleged LTTE links

‘Foreign experts conducted immensely beneficial two-day programme’


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) has strongly defended Norway-based Rajan Chelliah’s participation at a two-day media workshop recently conducted in Colombo.

Military sources alleged that Chelliah had been one of the top LTTE propagandists responsible for the outfit’s overseas operations. Sources said that Chelliah spearheaded anti-Sri Lankan campaigns during the war and was involved in propagating unsubstantiated war crimes allegations.

Sukumar Rockwood of the SLPI told The Island that Chelliah had been a member of a four member Norwegian delegation sent to Colombo on a training mission. "Chelliah is a journalist at the Norwegian Public Service Broadcasting, Oslo branch." Rockwood asserted that it was unfair to call Chelliah an LTTEer.

US experts also participated in the programme.

Dismissing accusations that Chelliah had been an LTTEer, Rockwood said that he was a citizen of Norway and there couldn’t be any issue as the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo had coordinated their visit. Rockwood emphasised that the programme had been immensely beneficial and was useful to participants.

Rockwood said that the SLPI and international media experts conducted workshop on ‘right to information and the role of media.’ The Norwegian experts also dealt with self regulation, Rockwood said, expressing concern over what he called negative media coverage of the two day event.

Trainers included Dr. Jeannine E. Relly, Associate Professor, School of  Journalism, University of Arizona, Kjersti Løken Stavrum, former general secretary of the Norwegian Press Institute,  Eva Stabell, International officer at the Norwegian Union of Journalists and Thomas Frigård.

SLPI consists of the Sri Lanka College of Journalism (SLCJ), the Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (PCCSL), the Advocacy and Free Media Division and the Media Resource Centre (MRC).

Military sources told The Island that Norwegian of Sri Lanka origin Rajan Chelliah aka Rajakulasingham Chelliah is also known by his nom de guerre LTTE Rajan. Rajan Chelliah had been involved in operating a satellite television channel based in France with a viewership in Europe.

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