Bailed Out

COLOMBO, January 11, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s court of appeal on Monday freed on bail a Tamil editor whose 20-year prison sentence last year for supporting “terrorism” drew international criticism, a court official said. Official figures show nine journalists have been killed and another 27 assaulted in the past three years in Sri Lanka while activists say over a dozen journalists have been killed. J.S. Tissainayagam, who edited North Eastern Monthly magazine in Colombo, was told to surrender his passport and to post 50,000 rupees (437 dollars) in bail pending a full appeal hearing, the official said.

Tissainayagam has appealed his conviction in August on charges of raising money for terrorism and of causing racial hatred through his writings about Tamils affected by the country’s 37-year separatist conflict.

The sentence of 20 years in jail with hard labour was condemned by the European Union, the United States and international press freedom groups.

In May, US President Barack Obama cited Tissainayagam, who also wrote for the Colombo-based Sunday Times newspaper, as one of the “emblematic examples” of a persecuted journalist.

In October, Sri Lankan courts acquitted North Eastern Monthly’s publisher S