Sri Lankan reporter Tissanayagam released on bail

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sri Lankan Tamil journalist J. S. Tissainayagam, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year, has been released on bail of Rs 50,000 (aproximately $437) by Appeal Court judges Ranjith Silva and D. S. Lekamwasam. This move comes ahead of upcoming general elections taking place on January 26th.

Jeyaprakash Tissainayagam, a Tamil, was arrested in 2008 after he wrote articles accusing the government of deliberately cutting off ethnic Tamil areas from food and other essential supplies during the latter stages of the war.

He was convicted on August 31, 2008 under Sri Lanka's Prevention of Terrorism Act on charges of inciting violence and receiving money from rebel groups and sentenced to 20 years in prison with hard labor.

During his trial, Tissanayagam claimed that he was harassed and threatened by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) while under detention. He has also filed a fundamental rights petition with the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

International rights groups and Sri Lankan journalists have condemned the act of putting a journalist in jail for his reporting. United States president Barack Obama called him one of the "emblematic examples" of reporters jailed for their work.