Two Tamil-Canadians pleaded not guilty to criminal charges before a Brooklyn judge on Thursday, years after U.S. prosecutors first accused them of ties to a terrorist organization.
Suresh (Waterloo Suresh) Sriskandarajah, 32, and Piratheepan Nadarajah, 36, stand accused of taking part in distinct conspiracies to run weaponry to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam last decade.
Both men had been in Canada resisting extradition for years, before they lost last-ditch appeals at the Supreme Court of Canada two weeks ago.
“They apparently reached New York Friday evening,” said Sam Schmidt, a New York lawyer acting for Mr. Nadarajah.
Bail hearings for the two men are scheduled for Jan. 9.
A decade ago the Tamil Tigers were on their way to carving out a separate state within Sri Lanka. But the guerrillas’ continued use of suicide bombings, child soldiers and political assassinations led the Canadian, U.S. and European governments to blacklist the militants as terrorists – and take steps to cut them off from their supporters in the global Tamil refugee diaspora.
The 30-year-old civil war ended in 2009 when the Sri Lankan government army vanquished the Tigers.
In 2006, U.S. prosecutors first alleged that Mr. Sriskandarajah and Mr. Nadarajah were Canadian cogs in the Tigers’ global procurement machine.
Mr. Nadarajah remains accused of taking part in a conspiracy to acquire $1-million worth of anti-aircraft missiles, missile launchers and other military equipment for the Tigers.
Mr. Sriskandarajah stands accused of helping the Tamil Tigers acquire aviation equipment, submarine- and warship-design software, and communications equipment, and of having used university students as couriers to smuggle prohibited items into Sri Lanka.
Remarkably, while he was released on bail in Canada, Mr. Sriskandarajah earned an MBA degree and also the inaugural “CIBC leaders of entrepreneurship” award at Wilfrid Laurier University.