Sri Lanka journalist detention highlighted by Obama

May 02, 2009 (LBO) – US President Barack Obama said he was concerned about threats against the media the world over, and mentioned the plight of Sri Lankan journalist J S Tissainayagam who has been detained for over a year. “In every corner of the globe, there are journalists in jail or being actively harassed: from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, Burma to Uzbekistan, Cuba to Eritrea,” Obama said in a statement marking World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

“Emblematic examples of this distressing reality are figures like J S Tissainayagam in Sri Lanka, or Shi Tao and Hu Jia in China.

“We are also especially concerned about the citizens from our own country currently under detention abroad: individuals such as Roxana Saberi in Iran, and Euna Lee and Laura Ling in North Korea.”

Tissainayagam has been detained and is on trial over his writings on Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict, especially references to Tamil Tiger rebels and the plight of Tamil civilians affected by the conflict.

In recent court hearings he has revealed that he had been repeatedly threatened by officers of Sri Lanka’s police terrorist investigation division and he also denied he made a confession.