Page last updated at 10:57 GMT, Monday, 25 August 2008 11:57 UK

Sri Lanka journalist denied bail

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Colombo

JS Tissainayagam (Pic: Free Media Movement)
Mr Tissainayagam's case has received widespread attention

A Sri Lankan journalist, accused under the country's Prevention of Terrorism Act, has been remanded in custody.

JS Tissainayagam was held for five months before he was charged with bringing the government into disrepute and stirring up communal disharmony.

Campaigners say Sri Lanka is fast becoming one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

They say that Sri Lanka's government is trying to stifle criticism of the war against the Tamil Tigers.

At least 12 journalists have been killed in Sri Lanka since August 2005.

Widespread attention

JS Tissainayagam stood silently in the dock at Colombo's High Court as his lawyers appealed for bail.

But the State Council opposed it on the grounds that he has been charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Mr Tissainayagam's case has received widespread attention in Sri Lanka.

Sunanda Deshapriya of the Free Media Movement said it showed Sri Lanka's government was willing to go to any lengths to suppress critical reporting of the war against the separatist Tamil Tigers.

Mr Tissainayagam was held for more than five months before he was charged with publishing and distributing a magazine, alleged to have brought the government into disrepute.

He is also accused of collecting money from non-governmental organisations for running the magazine.

Professor Rajiva Wijesinha of the Ministry of Human Rights said journalists had to be careful to make sure what they write could not be used by "terrorists".

If the security forces felt people were acting against national security, against the law, it was not for others to tell them not to proceed, he added.

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