Singapore party member extradited to US


A Singapore opposition party member has been extradited to the United States where he stands accused of trying to supply arms to Sri Lanka’s defeated Tamil Tiger rebels, according to a report Friday.

Balldev Naidu, 47, a businessman and co-founder of the Reform Party, was extradited on December 18, the Straits Times newspaper said quoting the Ministry of Home Affairs.

He is wanted on charges of acting as a broker between firearms manufacturers and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) between February and September 2006, as well as seeking to export the arms illegally from the United States to Sri Lanka.

His alleged accomplice, Singaporean Haniffa Osman, 57, had pleaded guilty to the charges in 2008 and was sentenced to 37 months’ jail by a Baltimore court.

Naidu had been detained in Singapore prior to the extradition following his arrest by local authorities in September.

He is a founding member of Singapore’s tiny opposition Reform Party.

The party’s secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam said last month that the US charges involved activities alleged to have occurred before the party was set up in 2008.

Jeyaretnam had described Naidu as “a gentle family man and someone who would never intentionally become involved with terrorists or arms dealers”.

Singapore has been home to a close-knit Tamil minority since British colonial days and hosts thousands of workers from Sri Lanka and southern India. Tamil is one of Singapore’s official languages.

Sri Lankan troops destroyed the Tamil Tigers’ leadership in May, ending one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.

The Tamil Tigers had been campaigning since 1972 for a separate homeland for the island’s Tamil minority and drew support from members of the overseas Tamil community.

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