Jailed Journalist

OTTAWA, September 2, 2009 (AFP) – Canada is “deeply concerned” by Sri Lanka’s sentencing of a journalist to 20 years of hard labor, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Wednesday. “The government of Canada is deeply concerned by the sentencing of J.S. Tissainayagam to 20 years in prison for violating Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act,” he said in a statement.

“Canada is a strong proponent of vibrant and free media, an essential element of democratic governance in Sri Lanka and around the world,” he said.

“Open and informed debate remains vital to long-term reconciliation and reconstruction in Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka has faced a barrage of criticism for sentencing the Tamil reporter, led by US condemnation and warnings about censorship from press freedom groups.

Tissainayagam, 45, who contributed to the local Sunday Times and ran a website Outreachsl.com, was found guilty under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

He was convicted of receiving money from the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to fund his work and causing racial hatred through his writings about Tamils affected by the conflict.

Sri Lanka’s army defeated the Tamil Tiger separ