NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two Canadian men who pleaded guilty in a plot to acquire anti-aircraft missiles and other military equipment for the Tamil Tigers rebel group in Sri Lanka were sentenced on Friday to 26 and 14 years in prison.
Sathajhan Sarachandran, 30, and Nadarasa Yogarasa, 55, were among four men arrested in 2006 in an FBI sting operation as they attempted to purchase surface-to-air missiles, missile launchers and hundreds of AK-47 automatic rifles that were to be used against Sri Lankan aircraft, prosecutors said.
Sarachandran pleaded guilty in January 2009 to providing, conspiring to provide and attempting to provide material support to the Tamil Tigers and conspiring and attempting to acquire anti-aircraft missiles.
Nadarasa pleaded guilty at the same time to conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the group.
U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie sentenced Sarachandran to 26 years in prison and Nadarasa to 14 years.
Last May, Sri Lanka announced it had taken control of the entire country for the first time since 1983, bringing an end to its decades-long war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The U.S. State Department considers the group a foreign terrorist organization.
According to prosecutors, the men were acting at the direction of senior Tamil leadership, including intelligence chief Pottu Amman, who was among those killed in the final phase of Sri Lanka's offensive against the group.
"The sentences handed down today send a clear message -- we will use the full force of the law to stop terrorist organizations and their supporters in their tracks," U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said in a statement.
The two other men who have pleaded guilty in this case have yet to be sentenced.