Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2008


Vettivel Jasikaran, OutreachSL, North Eastern Monthly
Vadivel Valamathy, MTV
IMPRISONED: March 6, 2008

Terrorist Investigation Division forces detained Vettivel Jasikaran, manager of the news site OutreachSL, and his companion, Vadivel Valamathy, both ethnic Tamils. J.S. Tissainayagam, editor of OutreachSL, was arrested the next day.

The Terrorist Investigation Division held the couple without charge for several months under emergency regulations, according to local and international human rights groups. In a court in Colombo on June 30, when the detention was extended for three months, Jasikaran said he had been tortured, according to Amnesty International. The group also said Valamathy had been denied medical treatment following recent stomach surgery.

In August, Tissainayagam was indicted on terrorism charges for "inciting communal disharmony" in articles published in 2006 in North Eastern Monthly, a now-dormant Tamil-viewpoint magazine that he had edited. Jasikaran's printing business had published the magazine.

Jasikaran and Valamathy were charged with aiding and abetting Tissainayagam, according to M.A. Sumanthiran, the editor's lawyer. The cases against Jasikaran and Valamathy were pending in late year.

The Tamil nationalist Web site TamilNet described Valamathy as a management trainee with the independently owned Sri Lankan TV network MTV.

J.S. Tissainayagam, OutreachSL, North Eastern Monthly, Sunday Times
IMPRISONED: March 7, 2008

Terrorist Investigation Division forces arrested well-known Tamil columnist and editor J.S. Tissainayagam when he tried to visit detained colleagues Vettivel Jasikaran and Vadivel Valamathy.

On August 25, the Colombo High Court indicted Tissainayagam on terrorism charges for articles he published in 2006, according to his lawyer, M.A. Sumanthiran. Sumanthiran told CPJ that his client faced two charges relating to articles published in North Eastern Monthly, a Tamil-viewpoint magazine that Tissainayagam once edited.

The court said the articles, which detailed displacement of residents and other humanitarian issues in eastern Sri Lanka, incited communal disharmony in violation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. A further charge related to fundraising for the magazine, Sumanthiran told CPJ. The magazine, which folded in early 2007, was published by Jasikaran's printing business.

In a statement posted on its official Web site, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights said the journalist and "his business associates" had produced publications "designed to embarrass the Sri Lankan government through false accusations."

Tissainayagam told his lawyer he had written a confession after being forced to watch several brutal interrogations, including one involving Jasikaran. The editor was denied bail, and his trial was pending in late year.

Prior to his arrest, Tissainayagam had written several opinion pieces for the Sunday Times, many of which were highly critical of the Sri Lankan government's handling of security issues. One of the final columns before his arrest was titled, "Child soldiers: What the govt. report did not report."

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