Sri Lanka pardons jailed Tamil editor: minister

May 3, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Monday pardoned a convicted Tamil editor whose 20-year prison term last year for supporting “terrorism” drew international criticism, the foreign minister said Monday. J. S. Tissainayagam, who edited North Eastern Monthly magazine in Colombo, has been pardoned by President Mahinda Rajapakse to coincide with World Press Freedom Day, minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris said.

“The president has decided to pardon J. S. Tissainayagam to mark international press freedom day today,” foreign minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris told reporters in Colombo.

In January, Tissainayagam was freed on bail and was asked to surrender his passport, pending a full appeal hearing.

Tissainayagam had 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.