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Oklahoma woman praises Inhofe for working to secure freedom for Sri Lankan military commander

The daughter of a man considered a political prisoner by the U.S. State Department says she expects her father to be released, just days after Sen. Jim Inhofe, from Oklahoma, spoke to Sri Lankan government officials.
by Chris Casteel Published: May 18, 2012

A Norman woman left for Sri Lanka on Thursday hoping to see her father, a former army commander in that country, freed from prison just days after Sen. Jim Inhofe requested his release during a meeting in Washington with Sri Lankan government officials.

Apsara Fonseka, whose father is considered a political prisoner by the U.S. State Department, said in an interview that Inhofe has been working for two years for his release. A report out of Sri Lanka on Thursday from the Reuters news agency said former Gen. Sarath Fonseka is expected to be released in the next few days.

“(Inhofe) has been working with me since the day this began, and he has helped me tremendously,” said Aspara Fonseka, a financial analyst at MidFirst Bank in Oklahoma City. “He has certainly gone above and beyond to help.”

Sarath Fonseka was the commander of the Sri Lankan army during the final stages of the 25-year civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels.

A few months after the war ended in 2009, Fonseka decided to challenge Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the office. After his defeat in early 2010, Fonseka was detained and then convicted last year on charges of inciting violence, according to the State Department.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and his staff began working with the State Department on the case after Apsara Fonseka contacted the senator two years ago.

Tuesday, the senator met personally with a delegation from the Sri Lankan government that was on Capitol Hill to talk about its plans for reconciling with an ethnic group that Sarath Fonseka helped defeat in a civil war.

The delegation included the foreign minister of Sri Lanka, I.G. Peiris, who is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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