Support luncheon held for Laurier alumnus facing extradition to the U.S.
A luncheon was held on May 30 for Wilfrid Laurier University alumnus Suresh Sriskandarajah to support him through allegations of his involvement with the Sri Lankan terrorist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Friends, family and community members attended the event to raise awareness of Sriskandarajah’s trials and also donate to his cause.
“Two years ago when it became apparent that it was going to be a huge legal battle I, with a couple other members of his community, formed a trust fund to raise money for his legal defence,” said Steve Farlow, executive director for the Schlegel Center for entrepreneurship at Laurier and trustee for the Justice for Suresh fund.
The FBI brought the allegations forward in 2006 while Sriskandarajah was a student at the University of Waterloo (UW), studying electrical engineering. They claim that Sriskandarajah was supplying the LTTE with computer software, in line with a UW co-op term he spent in Sri Lanka in 2004 and further support he provided following the 2004 tsunami.
“What hits me so hard, is the opportunity cost all of us to lose a compassionate, highly skilled man like Suresh, who wants nothing more than to contribute,” said Farlow.
Preparing to surrender to custody on June 9, the luncheon was an attempt to provide Sriskandarajah with a clear presence of support and generate awareness surrounding his desire to be tried in Canada as he holds his citizenship here.
“I want everything to go well for him and [hope] that justice will prevail,” remarked Aranee Murugananthan, a long time friend of Sriskandarajah who helped organize the event.
“It really hurts friends and family to know someone like Suresh has to undergo such a battle,” she added.
Despite all the burdens this has caused, friends and family consistently noted their amazement in Sriskandarajah’s ability to continue a productive and successful life, including becoming a candidate for a doctorate of philosophy.
“In his situation he can stand being strong and with confidence. I am proud of him,” professed his mother Ganagha Kathire.
Not only has Sriskandarajah worked towards education and career goals since the allegations surfaced, but he has also continued to support the development of the communities he is a part of.
“I can give examples right now of eight or nine students that Suresh has helped in a very meaningful way in terms of creating their businesses,” explained Farlow.
Excelling at the master of business administration program at Laurier, winning the CIBC Leaders in Entrepreneurship Award in 2008, Sriskandarajah has given back to the university community in making his knowledge of technology and business available to students working on new ventures.
“For Suresh it’s a form of paying back the people that have helped him through this,” said Farlow.
“This man is destined for great things; he’s got to overcome these horrific hurtles first.”
The legal battle thus far
- Accusations were made in 2006 by the FBI following their investigation into suppliers and supporters of the LTTE.
- The U.S. sought to extradite Sriskandarajah on the grounds that e-mails providing evidence to the case were based in through a server in New York.
- At the time, Canada had yet to adopt a ban against the LTTE, although the Americans did.
- After being ordered to be extradited to the U.S. by the Superior Court of Ontario, further appeals to the Minister of Justice and Court of Appeals have amounted to no change in the verdict.
For the latest update on Sriskandarajah’s case, click here.