Gammanpila claims 4 ‘dangerous’ proposals made by US delegation
Pivithuru Hela Urumaya Leader and Opposition MP Udaya Gammanpila claimed that four “dangerous” proposals, namely, the sharing of intelligence information with the United States (US), setting up US’s biometric immigration control systems at Sri Lankan airports, granting access to the submarine telecommunication cable, and the signing of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) have been presented to Sri Lanka by the “mysterious” American delegation that “secretly” arrived in Sri Lanka last month (February), which threaten the nation’s security.
He further claimed that apart from the first three proposals, the delegation had not received a “firm word” from President and Minister of Defence Ranil Wickremesinghe on the latter proposal (the signing of SOFA).
Gammanpila made these claims during a press conference held last Friday (3).
“The first proposal is to establish an intelligence analysis center to share all intelligence information received by Sri Lanka with the US. This is a proposal that is more than twenty years old and was first presented in 2002, when the incumbent President was Prime Minister. This project was halted when the Government toppled. Despite massive opposition from our security chiefs, the project was carried out by the then-Government.”
Speaking of the biometric immigration control system, Gammanpila alleged: “The US has requested access to data such as fingerprints, eye and hair patterns of all those who come to Sri Lanka. If this proposal is implemented, China, India, Russia and other countries will be unwilling to send their nationals to our country. Sri Lanka receives the highest number of tourists and investors from India, China, and Russia. This will aggravate the foreign exchange crisis.”
He further alleged that Sri Lanka’s international calls and data transfers are undertaken through a submarine telecommunication cable. “The US has requested that necessary facilities be provided to obtain the data that is transferred along this line and to secretly listen to the phone calls. In return, the US would accept the responsibility of issuing early warnings about terrorist threats to Sri Lanka. It could be the biggest joke of this year that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) organisation, which was unable to obtain information about the biggest terrorist attack in the history of the world on 11 September 2001, is taking the responsibility of giving advanced warnings about terrorist threats to Sri Lanka.”
Gammanpila also claimed that the signing of SOFA was the fourth proposal put forward by the delegation. He claimed that the agreement was set to be signed back in 2017, but was withdrawn. “We have heard that the President has not given a firm word in this regard, but has promised to discuss it further.”
“The USA is a historical enemy of ours who has always sided with our enemies. Providing extremely sensitive intelligence information as well as personal data of people arriving in Sri Lanka to such a country is a serious threat to Sri Lanka’s national security,” Gammanpila further charged.
Speaking to The Daily Morning on 22 February State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon termed the allegations levelled against the US delegation as false and baseless.
“The (US) delegation came and met me too. During my discussions with them, we spoke about regional security and the effects of the war in Ukraine, as well as our training programmes and other things of usual interest. What is wrong with that? We get high-ranking visitors and we entertain them. We are a nation that is friendly with the entire world and are enemies of none. So, I ask these veteran and senior politicians to be careful and responsible when they make public statements.”
Tennakoon made these comments in response to claims made by Opposition MP Wimal Weerawansa that the arrival of a high level delegation from the US Department of Defence in Sri Lanka recently was with the aim of placing Sri Lanka’s Intelligence information under the CIA.
The delegation led by the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs (PDASD) Jedidiah P. Royal paid a courtesy call on Tennakoon and Gunaratne during two separate occasions on 16 February, a press release issued by the Ministry of Defence said.