Friday, August 29, 2008

The first instance of a journalist being accused

J.S. Tissanayagam was indicted, in the first instance of a journalist being accused under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, in the Colombo High Court yesterday (Aug. 25th) on charges of having plotted to bring the government into disrepute and having attempted to incite communal feelings.
In the indictment, the Attorney General has mentioned three counts including offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in respect of the printing, publishing, and distribution of the magazine 'North Eastern Monthly' during the period between 1st June 2006 and 1st June 2007.
Offences under the PTA in respect of bringing the government into disrepute by the publication of articles in the said magazine.
The third charge is the violation of Emergency Regulations issued under Gazette Extraordinary 1474/3 of December 2006, by aiding and abetting terrorist organizations through the raising of money for the said magazine.
The journalist has been held in detention in the custody of the Terrorist Investigation Department since 7th March 2008.
Tissanayagam's lawyer Nalin Ladduwahetti requested bail for his client, to which the state counsel objected, saying that the HC has no powers to release him on bail as he is being held under detention orders.
Judge Deepali Wijesundara fixed the 09th of September as the next day of hearing.
Several local and international rights groups have been raising Tissanayagam's prolonged detention.
According to the Free Media Movement, the PTA has always been widely regarded as a 'draconian piece of legislation' that has led to the abuse of power, ethnic discrimination, the suppression of liberty, and is inconsistent with international standards of human rights protection.

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