Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday told B. Lynn Pascoe, the U.N. Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, that journalist J.S. Tissanayagam was given a 20-year prison sentence by a Colombo High Court last month for obtaining funds from the LTTE and being an agent of the LTTE.

The President Secretariat said that on concerns articulated by Mr. Pascoe about the journalist's prison sentence, Mr. Rajapaksa told him that neither he nor the government could interfere with the judiciary.

"The sentence was imposed by a court of law and the problem was with the defence, not seeking a reduced sentence. The Attorney General had not asked for a maximum sentence. He said he did not expect the Attorney General to oppose a shorter sentence when the case came in appeal".

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