Myanmar Draws Condemnation After 7-Year Jail Sentence for Reuters Reporters

City hall of Yangon in Myanmar

City hall of Yangon in Myanmar. Photo: Colegota.

A Myanmar judge on Monday jailed two Reuters journalists for seven years after finding them guilty of breaching a law on state secrets drawing widespread criticism for the Southeast Asian country already under a cloud for a brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.

Yangon northern district judge Ye Lwin said Wa Lone violated the colonial-era Official Secrets Act when they obtained confidential documents during their reporting on the killing by the security forces of Rohingya villagers.

“The defendants … have breached Official Secrets Act section 3.1.c, and are sentenced to seven years,” the judge said, according to Reuters News Agency.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, had pleaded not guilty earlier this year, arguing they were doing their jobs as reporters, did not collect or copy documents, and did nothing to harm the state’s interests.

The two were formally charged on Jan. 10, roughly a month after they were arrested on the outskirts of Yangon on Dec. 12 following dinner with two police officers who gave them papers related to a brutal military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

At the time of their arrest, the two reporters were working on a story about the murders of 10 Rohingya civilians from Inn Din village in northern Rakhine state, and the news agency later produced a gripping account of the killings by soldiers and ethnic Rakhine Buddhist neighbors.

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Reported by Kyaw Htun Naing, Nay Rein Kyaw, Htet Arkar and Kyaw Thu for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane and Khet Mar. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

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