Govt. admits Udayanga no longer in UAE custody



Embarrassed government officials yesterday admitted that former Sri Lankan ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, detained in the United Arab Emirates on Feb 4, was no longer in custody though the government earlier claimed a seven-member team was on its way there to bring him back to Colombo.

The government said Weeratunga, a close relative of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was wanted in connection with investigations into MiG 27 deal blamed on wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Weeratunga in a statement posted on his Facebook said that he had been released by the Interpol in UAE as he was not on the wanted list.

In a Facebook post, Weeratunga said the Interpol had detained and questioned him in UAE on February 4 while he was on his way to the US."However, after realising that no charge had been levelled against me at the international level and due to the lack of a red notice of the Interpol, I was released," he said.

Weeratunga said he had no intention of returning to Sri Lanka at the moment because of what he called a political witch hunt.

Weeratunga said all charges levelled against him were false.

The former ambassador said that he would file action against Sri Lanka police over the incident. Alleging that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had made a desperate bid to have him arrested ahead of Feb. 10 local government polls to boost its image, Weeratunga said asserting that tomorrow’s verdict by (the people would mark the beginning of the end of the present administration.

Earlier the government claimed that Weeratunga had been detained while he was on his way to meet Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, currently, in the US. (SF)

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