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IFJ and IPI Call For International Attention on Landmark Journalists' Rights Case in Sri Lanka

Statement by IFJ:

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI) call on colleagues in South Asia and international press to report loudly and widely on the current trial of senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam who is defending himself against terrorism charges in the Colombo High Court this week.

In what will become a landmark case in the history of press freedom in Sri Lanka and beyond, Tissainayagam will this week give evidence on two charges of writing to bring discredit to the government and inciting ethnic and racial disharmony and printing and publishing such material in the North Eastern Monthly between June 2006 and June 2007 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (1979) and one charge of violating the 2006 Emergency Regulations with regard to allegations of aiding and abetting terrorist organisations through raising money for the magazine.

A representative of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is attending the trial this week as an independent legal observer.

Tissainayagam was arrested on March 7 2008 by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) of the Sri Lankan police force and spent over five months in detention without charge, before a formal indictment was issued on August 25. Two other media workers, E-Kwality Printers owner N. Jesiharan and his wife Valamarthi, also continue to be held.

The IFJ and IPI appeal to journalists and editors to report the proceedings of Tissainayagam's trial to ensure that the international spotlight remains on this watershed case that will have ramifications worldwide.

For further information contact:
IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
IPI: E-mail: ipi@freemedia.at, Tel +43 1 5129011

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide
IPI is the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries