ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 9, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 41

Sunday Times columnist, 3 other journalists detained

J. S. Tissanayagam

Three journalists, including Sunday Times columnist J.S.Tissanayagam, were among five arrested and detained by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of the police on Friday while a fourth journalist was questioned and released last night.

Deputy Inspector General W. Prathapasinghe confirmed the arrests yesterday but declined to give the reasons. Mr. Tissanayagam and two other journalists are being held on a 30-day detention order while editor of the Sarinihar, a Tamil weekly, S. Sivakumar who is also the Tamil spokesman for the Free Media Movement, was released around midnight yesterday after being held for 12 hours, his lawyers said.

The arrests came after the Police raided E-quality Printers at Jampettah Street, Kotahena. It is owned by B. Jaseekaran, a one time journalist attached to a Batticaloa based Tamil newspaper Thinakathir. He and his wife Valarmathy were taken into custody.

The printing press had been used to print Sarinihar. A web site ( run by Mr. Tissanayagam also had its offices in the same building that housed the printing press. Others in custody are K. Wijesinghe, a video cameraman and S. Ranga, a photographer.

Mr. Sivakumar had not been available when the Mount Lavinia Police went to his residence at Ratmalana. Hence, one of his cousins had been taken away by the Police, according to Free Media Movement Convenor Sunanda Deshapriya. He said the Police had agreed to release him only after Mr. Sivakumar gave himself up to them. Yesterday, Mr. Deshapriya and a lawyer accompanied Mr. Sivakumar to the Mount Lavinia Police to plead for the release of his cousin. After his cousin was released, Mr. Sivakumaran reported to the TID. Mr. Deshapriya said the FMM was calling for a speedy inquiry.

Mr. Tissanayagam writes The Sunday Times weekly column Telescope, which will not appear today due to his continued detention since Friday.

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