Tamil journalist sentenced to 20 years imprisonment

Colombo, Aug 31 (DPA) A Tamil journalist charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Emergency Regulations in Sri Lanka was sentenced Monday to a 20-year rigorous jail term by a court, officials said.

The journalist, Jayeprakash Tissainayagam, 48, had been in custody for 14 months before he was sentenced by Colombo High Court judge Deepali Wijesundara following a trial.

He was charged with attempting to cause the commission of acts of violence or racial or communal disharmony relating to articles he published in a magazine, the North Eastern Herald, supporting Tamil rebels and donating money for the purpose of terrorism.

His lawyers said they were appealing the sentence.

Local and international media rights groups have been carrying on a campaign for his release but the government maintains that his actions had helped the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the writings were damaging to the country.

He is the first journalist to the charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which has been in existence for more than 30 years.

The defence ministry earlier accused Tissainayagam of helping the pro-rebel website Tamilnet in addition to obtaining funds from the LTTE to run his magazine.

Tamil rebels were defeated in May in a major military campaign that left the LTTE leadership dead.