Jailed scribe bags international awards

The Global Media Forum and the US Branch of Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday announced that Tissainayagam has been selected as the first winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism. The award would be presented in October.

Tissainayagam, 45, who contributed to the local Sunday Times and also ran a website that focused on the country’s Tamil population, was found guilty of spreading “racial hatred” and “supporting terrorism”, an official at Colombo’s High Court said.

“We are happy to reward J S Tissainayagam in 2009, a terrible year for Sri Lanka,” said Jean-Francois Julliard, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders.  “This country needs journalists who are determined and concerned with finding the truth. J S Tissainayagam is one of those and should never have been imprisoned,” he said.

The US criticised Sri Lanka on Monday for sentencing to 20 years in prison to Tissainayagam, a Tamil reporter whose case has been highlighted by US President Barack Obama.

Simultaneously, the New York-based the Committee to Protect Journalists announced that it would honour Tissainayagam with a 2009 International Press Freedom Award.

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