Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Sri Lankan editor held for link to Tamil Tiger air attack

A Sri Lankan newspaper editor has been detained over alleged links to a Tamil Tiger air attack in the capital, a family member said on Thursday.

Nadesapillai Vidyatharan, an ethnic Tamil who edits the Tamil-language daily Sudar Oli, appeared in court on Wednesday and was detained under anti-terrorism laws for up to three months, his brother-in-law, E Saravanapavan, said.

He said the family were only informed of the court proceedings afterwards.

There was no immediate comment from the police.

Police initially said he had been ”abducted by unidentified gunmen” on February 26, but later admitted he was being held and was under investigation for alleged links with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

He is also accused of coordinating a Tiger air attack in the capital on February 20.

The Paris-based media rights group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has strongly condemned the detention.

”The authorities made the wrong choice when they decided to keep Vidyatharan in custody despite the fact that there are no grounds for the allegations of complicity with the Tamil Tiger rebels,” RSF said in a statement.

”We urge the Sri Lankan courts to reverse this decision and free him, because he is not a terrorist as the government claims.”

Another ethnic Tamil journalist, JS Tissainayagam of the private Sunday Times newspaper, has been held under an anti-terrorism law for more than a year for writing about civilians caught in fighting between troops and Tiger rebels.

Under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act, suspects can in theory be held indefinitely without charge.

Investigators are only obliged to renew the detention by way of informing a court every three months.

According to official figures, nine journalists have been killed in Sri Lanka in the past three years, including Lasantha Wickrematunga, a member of the majority Sinhalese community, and editor of the Sunday Leader, who was shot by unknown gunmen in January. — AFP



Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

DA’s egregious sexual harassment case finally begins

The party is accused of protecting a councillor, who’s also implicated in R1.2m graft

The ANC, DA and EFF ‘oblivious’ to climate crisis —...

The Climate Justice Charter Movement has critiqued the manifestos of the main parties contesting the local government elections and found them ‘shallow’

More top stories

Special Investigating Unit to oppose efforts to reject Mkhize report

Former health minister Zweli Mkhize seeks relief to declare the SIU’s conduct against him ‘unlawful and unconstitutional

Bird flu outbreak on Dyer Island causing mass deaths

The island hosts the vulnerable African penguins, endangered bank cormorant and roseate tern

Countries bear cross-border responsibility for harmful effects of climate change,...

The UN committee has been accused of ‘turning its back’ on the children who filed a groundbreaking legal complaint with it against five countries

Magashule files notice to have corruption charges dropped

Counsel for the suspended ANC secretary general tells court the former Free State premier falls outside category of who can be charged for corrupt activities

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…