Terror suspects extradited to U.S.
Suspected Tamil Tigers include Ottawa student
Two Ontario men have been extradited to the United States to face terrorism-related charges, capping a six-year legal battle in Canada.
Suresh Sriskandarajah and Piratheepan Nadarajah, who are accused of providing assistance to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, were arraigned Thursday in a federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., and pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, the men face maximum sentences of 25 years to life in prison.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed a claim by the pair that Canada’s terrorism laws infringed on their constitutional rights. It also ruled that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson did not err when he ordered that the pair surrender to the United States.
Their extradition was announced Thursday in a news release by Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the eastern District of New York.
Nadarajah, 36, is accused of conspiring and attempting to acquire $1 million worth of anti-aircraft missiles, missile launchers and other equipment in support for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam — or Tamil Tigers — deemed in Canada and the U.S. to be a terrorist group.
The Tigers had been engaged in a lengthy civil war with the Sri Lankan government until their defeat in 2009.
Sriskandarajah, 32, is accused of conspiring to provide material support to the Tamil Tigers, including helping the group’s chief procurement officer to research and acquire aviation equipment, submarine and warship design software and communications equipment. He is also accused of using students as couriers to smuggle prohibited items into Tamil Tiger-controlled territories in Sri Lanka, as well as helping the group launder its proceeds.
The men were indicted following an FBI operation that saw an undercover officer pose as a black-market arms dealer.
“These two defendants were part of the cycle of sophisticated arms and large sums of money that fuelled their terrorist organization,” Lynch said, adding that they would “stop at nothing” to achieve their goals.
A spokesman from her office said a judge ordered that the pair remain in custody. However, their defence lawyers signalled their intent to make bail applications at a hearing next month.
Sriskandarajah reportedly has degrees from the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, and was most recently studying law at the University of Ottawa. Nadarajah had been living in Brampton, Ont.
The pair and a third man, convicted Ottawa terrorist Momin Khawaja, had tried to argue before the Supreme Court of Canada that this country’s anti-terrorism laws should be struck down because they defined terrorist activity too broadly and violated the constitutional right to freedom of expression.
But in a unanimous ruling Dec. 14, the Supreme Court rejected the men’s claims.