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Sri Lanka group seeks probe of reporter’s alleged kidnapping

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A Sri Lankan media rights group on Thursday urged police to expedite a probe into the alleged abduction and torture of a journalist, calling the incident a serious threat to the safety of journalists in the country.

However, Sri Lankan police say the journalist, Sujeewa Gamage, lied about being abducted and has been taken into custody for making a false statement. A police spokesperson said the current investigation is focused on determining why he fabricated the events.

Gamage’s arrest on Wednesday came hours after being released from the hospital, according to his lawyer, Namal Rajapakse.

The Sri Lanka-based Free Media Movement said in a statement that Gamage, a former freelance journalist who now runs his own publication, was abducted and tortured by unknown assailants on March 10. Gamage said he was taken from Mirigama, a small town about 65 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of the capital Colombo, and was freed in the city later the same day.

Gamage said he was treated in the capital’s main hospital for injuries sustained during the abduction, and was discharged Wednesday. The Free Media Movement did not elaborate on the extent of his injuries, and hospital authorities declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

Gamage said the kidnappers were looking for information on a data storage device, and stole three of his devices.

Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said an investigation into the kidnapping determined it was “a fabricated story,” and that Gamage has confessed to making it up.

“He was arrested for making a false complaint and will be produced before the courts,” Rohana said at a press conference Thursday.

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