Sri Lankan journalist charged with terrorism

A couple of weeks ago we reported on Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, who was detained by Terrorist Investigation Division forces in March. At first glance, his arrest seemed related to a Tamil news site he edits. But local journalists tell us the site was innocuous and as the months passed, no charges were forthcoming.

Then in August, he was suddenly charged with promoting terrorism through a magazine he published for a brief period in 2006. There was no explanation for the anachronism.

Tissa, as he is known, is ethnic Tamil and wrote a fiery Tamil-viewpoint column, “Telescope,” for the respected weekly Sunday Times until his detention. You can read examples from the weeks leading up to his arrest here and here. His many supporters fear the government objected to his criticisms and resorted to draconian anti-terrorism laws to shut him up. The laws allow detentions of up to several months without charge. If the terrorist charges are successfully levied against a journalist, it will set a dangerous precedent for those of Tissa’s colleagues who dare to speak out. And there are many of them.

The International Federation of Journalists and Sri Lankan press freedom groups have produced the video below to generate support for Tissa. It’s part of a campaign called “Stop the War on Journalists in Sri Lanka.” They also have a Facebook page.