Thulasitharan Santhirarajah, the director of a Mebourne business college, was arrested on July 14 by the Australian Federal Police at the request of the US FBI.
He appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court the same day and was remanded in custody. He is expected to face proceedings for extradition to the United States in August.
According to the July 16 Australian, Santhirarajah is accused of "terrorism offences". No details of the alleged offences have been released, but the Australian claims he is "believed to be linked to the Tamil Tigers", the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is carrying out an armed struggle for self-determination for the oppressed Tamil people of Sri Lanka.
According to the Australian, Santhirarajah's arrest followed weeks of what appeared to be covert surveillance of his house. Neighbours said they had noticed unusual activity in their street, and one neighbour said she had seen people setting up what she thought was undercover surveillance.
In addition to the business college, five properties in Melbourne's eastern suburbs were raided. Some colleagues and business associates were questioned by the police, but later released.
Santhirarajah's arrest is part of a worldwide pattern of repression against supporters of the Tamil struggle. The LTTE is banned in the US and the European Union.
In Australia, the LTTE is not on the government's list of proscribed organisations. Nevertheless, three Tamil men were arrested last year on charges of being members of the LTTE, and of raising money for the organisation. They are currently out on bail, with the trial expected next year.
During the trial, the prosecution will attempt to prove that the LTTE is a terrorist organisation. Among the "witnesses" it is planning to call are leading officials of the Sri Lankan government and army — hardly unbiased observers since they are waging war on the LTTE. Furthermore, the Sri Lankan government forces have themselves been accused of carrying out a campaign of state terrorism against the Tamil people.