International PEN welcomes the announcement on May 3, 2010, that Tamil journalist Jayaprakash Sittampalam (J. S.) Tissainayagam has received a presidential pardon. J. S. Tissainayagam was detained in March 2008 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his critical writings. He was released on bail on January 11, 2010, pending appeal.

Background Information

On August 31, 2009, a High Court in Sri Lanka sentenced J. S. Tissainayagam to 20 years’ imprisonment with hard labor under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for “causing communal disharmony” in his articles published in 2006 by the magazine North-Eastern Monthly. He was also found guilty of raising funds to publish the magazine. Police used a confession allegedly forced through torture as evidence to convict him. Following widespread international pressure, J. S. Tissainayagam was granted release on bail pending appeal on January 11, 2010. The announcement that he had been pardoned by President Mahinda Rajapaksa was timed to coincide with International Press Freedom Day (May 3).

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Thank you to all who sent appeals on this case.