World media forum calls for release of jailed Sri Lankan journalist

Brussels, August 31: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s biggest organisdation of journalists, Monday criticised the 20-year jail term against senior Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam as “brutal and inhumane” and accused the authorities of abusing anti-terror laws to silence peaceful critics.

The High Court of Colombo convicted Tissainayagam, a prominent Tamil journalist, of “causing communal disharmony” and “receiving money from Tamil Tiger rebels to pay for his website”.

He was detained last year and later charged with inciting violence in articles in his magazine, the North Eastern Monthly, which has since closed.

The landmark ruling makes Tissainayagam one of a handful of journalists in the world to be convicted of terrorism for the content of their journalism, the EuAsiaNews said citing the IFJ.

“This man has been victimised for no more than holding the government to account and giving voice to legitimate if critical opinion,” IFJ general secretary Aidan White said. “The sentence is disproportionate, brutal and inhumane and is a chilling reminder of how dangerous Sri Lanka has become for independent journalists.”

“We will not give up our campaign for Tissainayagam,” said White. “He should be released and this terrible injustice undone immediately.”