Tissainayagam arrives in US

[TamilNet, Sunday, 20 June 2010, 13:44 GMT]
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Saturday, jailed Senior Tamil journalist, Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam, arrived at Washington’s Dulles International Airport on Saturday morning where 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,” CPJ website said.

“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 Sri Lanka government announced that it would grant Tissainayagam a presidential pardon but even after the announcement the Colombo, citing judicial procedural matters, was dithering to disclose when the journalist would be released.

Tissainayagam was 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 Sri Lanka's draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in August 2008 for causing disharmony among ethnic communities by publishing two articles in an online website.

Amnesty International named Tissainayagam as a Prisoner of Conscience, held a vigil in UK in early September 2009, and said "[w]e gathered to protest against the sentencing of Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam, known as Tissa to his friends and family, to 20 years ‘vigorous imprisonment’ by the Government of Sri Lanka."

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) honoured Tissainayagam with its 2009 International Press Freedom Awards at a ceremony in November 2009.

Tissainayagam also won the coveted Peter Mackler Award for courageous and ethical journalism, named for a 30-year veteran of Agence France-Presse who died last year, at a ceremony at the National Press Club in US in October 2009.


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