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FMM concerned over imprisoned journalist's health

(FMM/IFEX) - The following is a 19 November 2008 FMM press release:

FMM fears for physical safety of journalist Tissainayagam in Magazine prison

J.S. Tissainayagam, a senior journalist who is on trial before the High Court,was moved from the remand prison to the Magazine prison in Colombo on November 18. No reasons have been given for this sudden move. Neither Tissainayagam, who appeared in courts on the 18th, nor his lawyers were aware of this move. He now remains in a room with 140 convicted criminals. Free Media Movement learned that Tissainayagam has been threatened by some of the prisoners. Since being moved to the magazine prison Tissainayagam has not eaten. His dinner on the 18th was taken by the other prisoners. He was not provided with lunch on the 18th or breakfast on the 19th.

Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister for Human Rights and Disaster Management, visited Tissainayagam on November 17th with the Prison Commissioner. At the meeting, the Minister and Prison Commissioner had agreed to improve the living conditions of the prison. The move to the Magazine prison took place a day after the visit.

On March 7, the Terrorist Investigative Department (TID) arrested Tissainayagam and detained him without charges for more than 150 days. He was later charged both under Emergency Regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism Act for printing and distributing the North Eastern Monthly magazine and aiding and abetting terrorist organisations through raising money for the magazine. His trial is presently before the High Court in Colombo.

Free Media Movement is concerned with the sudden development of events and this movement without any reasons for it being given to Tissainayagam or his lawyers. FMM appeals to the authorities to ensure the safety of Tissainayagam and provide him with food and other essential facilities while in prison.

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