Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, praised by Barack Obama as a beacon of press bravery, has been jailed in Sri Lanka for 20 years. The trial and process was a sham, further condemning the country to the status of rogue state.
Reporters Without Borders has issued the following statement:
Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the “shameful” 20-year jail sentence which a Colombo high court passed today on journalist J.S. Tissainayagam on charges of supporting terrorism and inciting racial hatred in his articles.
“The imposition of this extremely severe sentence on Tissainayagam suggests that some Sri Lanka judges confuse justice with revenge,” Reporters Without Borders said. “With the help of confessions extracted by force and information that was false or distorted, the court has used an anti-terrorism law that was intended for terrorists, not for journalists and human rights activists.”
The press freedom organisation added: “We strongly hope that the appeal process adheres to the facts of the case and the spirit of the law. Meanwhile, until the appeal is heard, we urge the authorities to guarantee this journalist’s physical safety and health, which has deteriorated greatly while in detention.”
Global Media Forum and Reporters Without Borders have chosen to announce today that Tissainayagam will be the first winner of the Peter Mackler Prize, a newly-created award for journalists who display great courage and professional integrity in countries where press freedom is not respected…
Tissainayagam is the first Sri Lankan journalist to be convicted under the anti-terrorism law. In fact, he is one of the few journalists anywhere in the world to be accused of terrorism because of their reporting.