Article published on the 2009-08-31 Latest update 2009-08-31 13:55 TU
Sri Lanka has sentenced a Tamil journalist to 20 years in jail after he was convicted on terrorism charges. After the court found he had received money from the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to fund his Tamil website, J.S. Tassainayagam was found guilty of causing “racial hatred” and “supporting terrorism.”
Tassainayagam is the first person to be convicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1982, which began as a temporary law in 1978.
He ran the website Outreachsl.com, focusing on Tamil issues. He also contributed to the local Sunday Times.
Local and international media rights groups have appealed for his release since he was taken into custody in March.
In a letter sent to the government earlier this year to pressure them into dropping charges, Human Rights Watch said that "while international law permits some restrictions on freedom of expression for reasons of national security, such restrictions may not be used to justify far-reaching restrictions on critics of the government."
A 25-year long civil war ended in May when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were defeated by government forces in the North of the island.
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