Two Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims have been found guilty of breaching the country’s Official Secrets Act and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, are being held in prison in Yangon after being arrested in December, in a landmark case that has prompted international outrage and been seen as a test of progress towards democracy in the south-east Asian country.
In his ruling, judge Ye Lwin said the men “tried many times to get their hands on secret documents and pass them to others. They did not behave like normal journalists.”
As he was led to a police van in handcuffs, Wa Lone said: “I have no fear. I have not done anything wrong … I believe in justice, democracy and freedom.” Kyaw Soe Oo hugged his wife while she was sobbing and held her until police took him away.
Reuters condemned the verdict as “a major step backwards” for Myanmar.
The defence lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said the verdict was “bad for our country” and that he would “take any option to get their immediate release”.
Press freedom advocates, the United Nations, the European Union and countries including the US, Canada and Australia had called for the men to be acquitted.
The journalists were looking into the deaths of 10 Rohingyaat the hands of soldiers and Buddhist villagers in Inn Din, a village in the north of Rakhine state. After being invited to a dinner by officers, they were detained.
Source: The Guardian