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Friday, Dec 09, 2022

Two Reuters journalists investigating Rohingya killings jailed for 7 years by Myanmar court

Reacting to the development, Reuters Editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said, "Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the press everywhere."

Reuters journalist Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo arrive at Insein court in Yangon, Myanmar. (REUTERS)

A court in Myanmar sentenced two journalists from news agency Reuters to seven years of imprisonment amid mounting international criticism. The ruling came under the official secrets law for illegal possession of official documents.

Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, and Wa Lone, 32, the two journalists contending that they were framed by the police had pleaded not guilty to the colonial era law. The two reporters have been reporting on brutal crackdown and alleged ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine state of Myanmar against the Rohingya by the Myanmar Army.

Reacting to the development, Reuters Editor-in-chief Stephen J Adler said, “Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the press everywhere.” According to the agency, the two journalists were detained in Myanmar on December 12, 2017. At the time of their arrests, they had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

Ten Rohingya Muslim men with their hands bound kneel as members of the Myanmar security forces stand guard in Inn Din village September 2, 2017. (Source: REUTERS)

The climax of the case comes amid building pressure on the administration of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi over a security crackdown in the western state of Rakhine that was sparked by militant attacks in August 2017. Later in the day, a UN-mandated fact-finding mission is set to release a report on the crackdown, which triggered the exodus of more than 700,000 stateless Muslim Rohingya, according to UN agencies.

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According to Reuters, the journalist told the court that the documents he is accused of breaking state secrets laws to obtain were planted by a police officer, who handed him papers he had not sought in order to entrap him. Wa Lone had told the court that he followed the journalistic ethics in his reporting of the Rohingya massacre.

Lone said that he had not reviewed the documents properly before he was arrested, so could not speak about their contents. He repeatedly said he had not violated Myanmar media law. “The documents found in my hands were given by Police Lance Corporal Naing Lin to set us up and arrest us,” Wa Lone told the court. Naing Lin testified during pre-trial hearings that he met the reporters at a restaurant on Dec. 12, but said that he did not hand them anything.

First published on: 03-09-2018 at 10:27:02 am
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