New York, June 19, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalist welcomes the arrival in the United States of Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, who arrived at Washington’s Dulles International Airport on Saturday morning. He was met there by friends. According to CPJ representative Kamel Labidi, who was on hand to meet Tissa, “He was all smiles, and said to thank everyone who helped him gain his freedom.”
“Tissainayagam’s arrival in the United States is very welcome news, and we join in the joy that he and his wife Ronnate are feeling,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “We hope his arrival in the U.S. is a step by the government to address its harsh policies toward the media—policies that have not changed since the end of Sri Lanka’s more than 30 years of civil conflict.”
On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, the government announced that it would grant Tissainayagam a presidential pardon. Tissainayagam had been released on bail in January and had lived in seclusion in Sri Lanka since. The Tamil editor was first jailed in March 2008 and eventually indicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in August 2008.
So far, the Sri Lankan government has made no official statement about the terms of his release, and Tissainayagam and his wife have made no public statements.