May 03, Colombo:
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to pardon Tamil journalist J. S. Tissainayagam who has been convicted and released on bail, today, the World Press Freedom Day, External Affairs Minister G.L Peiris told media.
Tissainayagam who was sentenced to 20 years Rigorous Imprisonment under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Emergency Regulations was granted bail by the courts in January this year.
He was arrested by the Terrorism Investigation Division of police in March 2008 and had been detained under the PTA until his release on bail.
Colombo High Court in August 2009 found Tissainayagam guilty on three charges of conspiracy and violating the Prevention of Terrorism Act and emergency regulations and handed over the minimum prison term applicable under the law.
Tissainayagam, the editor of the North Eastern Monthly magazine, wrote articles highly critical of government's military offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels. The prosecution said Tissainayagam received funds from LTTE to write and distribute his magazine.
Media freedom organizations rallied on behalf of Tissainayagam accusing the Sri Lankan government of clamping on media freedom. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa to grant a pardon and annul his prison sentence.
Tissainayagam received the CPJ's International Press Freedom Award and Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism in 2009.