U.S. wants 15 years for Tamil Tiger
Convicted. Ramanan Mylvaganam leaves Brampton courthouse with supporters after being released on $680,000 bail in 2006. File photo
The United States Department of Justice will ask a federal judge to impose a 15-year prison sentence on a Malton man who pleaded guilty to his role in a 2006 terror plot to supply Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers.
Ramanan Mylvaganam, 35, will appear in a Brooklyn, N.Y. courtroom tomorrow to be sentenced.
U.S. attorney Loretta Lynch said in a sentencing report filed in court that Mylvaganam committed “a gravely serious offence.”
Mylvaganam’s lawyer, Jerry Fong, who spoke with The News today, wants his client freed and has asked for a sentence of time served. He said Mylvaganam used poor judgment, but has learned his lesson and is remorseful.
Mylvaganam pleaded guilty in February to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Sri Lanka was in the midst of a bloody civil war at the time.
His younger brother says his sibling’s finances were depleted and he had “no choice” but to end court proceedings with a guilty plea.
“This is the only thing he could do right now for his own good and for the good of his family,” Raghu Kathiravetpillai said earlier, noting his brother and the family couldn’t afford to keep the case going.
U.S. authorities alleged Mylvaganam conspired with former University of Waterloo student Suresh Sriskandarajah, 30, to purchase about $22,000 in submarine design software from a company in the United Kingdom. Sriskandarajah has been ordered extradited to the U.S., but he’s appealing the order to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Authorities allege Mylvaganam also tried to acquire computer, electronics and communications equipment as well as night-vision gear for the Tigers.
“The defendant conspired to provide sophisticated technological equipment to the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam), a foreign terrorist organization that has carried out brutal acts of violence against numerous civilians and elected officials,” Lynch said in an earlier statement.
Born in northern Sri Lanka, Mylvaganam moved to Malton in 1992. Two other Canadians — Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam and Sahilal Sabaratnam — arrested along with him as part of a joint Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)/Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) probe in 2006 were sentenced last year to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempting to buy heat-seeking missiles and military assault rifles for the rebel organization.
A third Canadian, Satha Sarachandran, 30, was sentenced to 26 years in prison, while Nadarasa Yogarasa, a Sri Lankan living in the U.S., got 14 years.
Mylvaganam’s efforts to avoid extradition were turned down in 2010. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled he likely knew he was helping the “Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam for the prohibited purposes,” and upheld the extradition order imposed by a Federal Court judge.
The LTTE had been fighting for an independent homeland in Sri Lanka until the resistance was crushed in 2009.
Mylvaganam, at the time a computer engineering student at University of Waterloo, was arrested on Aug. 22, 2006 by the RCMP at his Derry Rd. E. apartment. He was picked up at the request of American authorities.
One month later, he was granted bail and returned to university, where he continued to pursue a master’s degree.
Mylvaganam and four other Ontario men were initially charged with one count each of conspiring to provide material support and resources to the Tamil Tigers.
Twelve men have been charged in the joint FBI-RCMP investigation. The sweep also included arrests in Buffalo, San Jose, Seattle and Connecticut.
According to his brother, Mylvaganam was supposed to start a job at Microsoft’s international headquarters in Redmond, Washington in late 2006, but those plans were put on hold after he was arrested.
Prosecutors say the arrests are in relation to a network of men in Canada and the U.S. that used members’ post-secondary studies as a cover for terrorist activities.
Officials say the group kept in contact with top Tamil Tiger operatives in Sri Lanka and the U.S. It tried to obtain compasses, computers and night-vision goggles for the Tigers, but also had bigger plans that included the purchase of aviation equipment, prosecutors allege.
Source: Foreign News Sources
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