Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sri Lanka frees publisher held for 19 months

A Sri Lankan judge on Monday freed a publisher who had been held in custody for 19 months on charges of supporting terrorism, saying the accused man had been forced to confess under torture.

S. Jaseeharan and his wife, who were detained in March 2008 for articles published in their North Eastern Monthly magazine, were acquitted of all charges.

The judge said that a confession in which Jaseeharan admitted to supporting the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels had been obtained under duress and that medical records presented in court showed he had been tortured.

“The attorney general withdrew the charges as the judge noted that the confession was not made voluntarily,” a court official said.

Government troops finally defeated the Tiger rebels in May after decades of fighting, but international press groups say that Sri Lankan journalists still face major restrictions on reporting.

J.S. Tissainayagam was in August jailed to 20 years of hard labour for two articles he wrote in the North Eastern Monthly in 2007.

He was found guilty of causing “racial hatred” through his writings about Tamils affected by the war and of raising money for “terrorism.”

Several Sri Lankan reporters have been killed in recent years by unidentified groups.


Related Links:
Detained Tamil publisher is freed - BBC

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