Two Reuters reporters jailed for seven years in Myanmar

Sep 04, 2018, 07:17 IST | Agencies

They were arrested in December after reporting on a massacre of Rohingyas

Two Reuters reporters jailed for seven years in Myanmar
Kyaw Soe Oo (left) and Wa Lone were charged with violating the Official Secrets Act. Pics/AFP

Two Reuters journalists accused of breaching Myanmar's state secrets law while reporting on a massacre of Rohingya Muslims were jailed for seven years yesterday, fuelling further international outrage a week after the army was accused of genocide.

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 case has sparked an outcry among the international community as an attempt to muzzle reporting on last year's crackdown by Myanmar's security forces on the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

Army-led "clearance operations" drove 7,00,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, carrying with them widespread accounts of atrocities - rape, murder and arson - by Myanmar police and troops.

The reporters denied the charges, insisting they were set up while exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine village in September last year. They had told the court 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. But Judge Ye Lwin was unmoved by their testimony. "The culprits intended to harm the interests of the state. And so they have been found guilty under the state secrets act," he said.

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