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Swiss summon Sri Lankan envoy over staffer's abduction

AFP  |  Geneva 

Switzerland has summoned Sri Lanka's ambassador and asked to see the "purported evidence" that Colombo says casts doubt on claims by a Swiss embassy staff member that she was abducted.

Envoy Karunasena Hettiarachchi, who is based in Berlin, met with Switzerland's State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl in Bern on Monday, a statement said.

The diplomat flap began after a top Sri Lanka police officer sought asylum in Switzerland.

The next day a local staffer at the Swiss embassy in Colombo claimed she was abducted and forced to hand over sensitive information.

According to the Swiss foreign ministry, the woman was "threatened by unidentified men" and forced "to disclose embassy-related information".

On Sunday, Sri Lanka sought to raise doubts about that narrative, claiming it had provided Swiss ambassador Hanspeter Mock with "clear evidence" that the staff member's account did not add up.

But in a statement issued late Monday the Swiss foreign ministry indicated that such proof had not been shared.

The state secretary "asked Ambassador Hettiarachchi to explain the purported evidence against the events described by the embassy, which the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs had alluded to," the statement said.

The Swiss repeated that it supported Sri Lanka's desire to investigate the matter but reiterated that "the employee concerned still cannot be questioned on health grounds".

The staffer was reportedly forced to open her mobile phone and reveal the names of Sri Lankans who had sought asylum in Switzerland.

The police officer who fled to Switzerland had been investigating several cases involving members of the Rajapaksa family who regained power after Gotabaya Rajapaksa won a November 16 election.

The government this week alerted airport immigration authorities to stop any police officer leaving the country without permission.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, December 03 2019. 16:20 IST
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