Two Reuters reporters jailed in Myanmar

A Myanmar judge today found two Reuters journalists guilty of breaching a law on state secrets during their reporting of the Rohingya crisis and sentenced them to seven years in prison. This case was treated as a test of progress towards democracy in the Southeast Asian country.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who have been held in Yangon’s Insein prison since their arrest in December, were charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, a draconian British colonial-era law which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.

“The defendants…have breached Official Secrets Act section 3.1.c, and are sentenced to seven years. The time already served by the defendants from Dec. 12 will be taken into consideration,” the judge said.

“The defendants…have breached Official Secrets Act section 3.1.c, and are sentenced to seven years. The time already served by the defendants from Dec. 12 will be taken into consideration,” the judge said.

However, the reporters denied the charges, insisting they were set up while exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine village of Inn Din in September last year. They alleged that they were arrested after being invited to dinner by police in Yangon who handed them documents. As they left the restaurant, the pair were detained for possessing classified material.

Reuters editor in chief Stephen J Adler deplored the arrest and sayd today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the press everywhere.

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