Mar 11, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has requested the United States to drop the terrorism charges against an extradited Canadian Tamil to stand trial in a federal court in New, a Canadian newspaper reported.
The National Post of Canada reported that the Sri Lankan government in a letter to the U.S. State Department has urged the U.S. to drop the charges against Suresh Sriskandarajah, 32, who was extradited to New York in December to stand trial on terrorism charges.
Sriskandarajah and another suspect Piratheepan Nadarajah, 36, alleged operatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), were extradited from Canada and arraigned on December 27, 2012 in the United State federal court in Brooklyn, New York.
Sriskandarajah, also known as Waterloo Suresh, is charged with conspiring to provide material support to the LTTE and dealing in the property of a specially designated terrorist group.
The letter, according to the National Post, has been produced at the bail hearing of Sriskandarajah at the U.S. District Court last month and the presiding Judge Raymond Dearie has written that the letter urged the U.S. to drop the charges against the suspect "in light of his publicly recognized efforts to secure a lasting, peaceful reconciliation for the Tamil people."
"Given the history of Sri Lanka's prolonged and bitter conflict, the request is indeed an extraordinary initiative that evidences Suresh's legitimate and admirable work to secure a lasting and just resolution of the tragic conflict," the judge has said.
However, the letter had no impact on the bail hearing and the judge has ruled the letter was not relevant to the bail proceedings and ordered him to be remanded for the duration of the trial.
The judge has also denied bail to Nadarajah, who is charged with conspiring and attempting to acquire US$1 million worth of anti-aircraft missiles, missile launchers, and other military equipment and conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the LTTE.
According to court filings, Sriskandarajah and several co-conspirators have assisted a principal LTTE procurement officer to research and acquire aviation equipment, submarine and warship design software, and communications equipment.
Sriskandarajah, an engineer and former head of the University of Waterloo Tamil Students Association, has used students as couriers to smuggle prohibited items into LTTE-controlled Wanni region in Sri Lanka. He has also helped the LTTE launder its proceeds in the United States and elsewhere.
Both men were arrested in Toronto following a joint RCMP-FBI investigation called Project O-Needle in 2006. They have been fighting extradition in Canada since then and in December last year lost the battle when the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the orders to extradite them to the U.S. to face charges against them.
The extraordinary request from the Sri Lankan government is believed to be an effort to use those arrested in the O-Needle investigation to turn Tamil-Canadians against the Tigers.
The Sri Lankan government last year said it was planning to hold a dialogue with the Tamil Diaspora soon to establish permanent and sustainable peace in the country. The former LTTE arms procurer Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP was reportedly instrumental in mediating talks between the government and the Tamil diaspora who supported the LTTE earlier.