Reuters Journalists Jailed by Myanmar

Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who are based in Myanmar pose for

Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who are based in Myanmar pose for

A Myanmar judge on Monday found two Reuters journalists guilty of breaching a law on state secrets and jailed them for seven years, in a landmark case seen as a test of progress towards democracy in the Southeast Asian country.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act, a colonial-era law, Reuters reported.

A United Nations report last week asserted that the military's actions were genocidal and called on Myanmar military leaders, including the commander in chief, to be investigated and prosecuted over war crimes and crimes against humanity. The defense can appeal the decision to the regional court and then the Supreme Court.

The court determined that "confidential documents" found on the two would have been useful "to enemies of the state and terrorist organisations".

Dan Chugg, British ambassador to Myanmar, speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom and member states of the European Union, said: "We are extremely disappointed by this verdict". "These sentences mark a new low for press freedom and further backsliding on rights under Aung San Suu Kyi's government".

Army-led "clearance operations" drove 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, carrying with them widespread accounts of atrocities - rape, murder and arson - by Myanmar police and troops.

Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler said today was a sad day for the journalists, Myanmar and the media. "We know what we did - it was just to get information (for our reporting)", said Wa Lone after the guilty verdict, surrounded by a throng of journalists and photographers, before he was once again hastily pushed back into a police van and brought to Yangon's notorious Insein prison. The journalists testified they did not solicit or knowingly possess any secret documents, and a police officer who testified his commander had ordered documents be planted on the journalists was subsequently jailed for a year. "I believe in justice, democracy and freedom", he said.

The case has been widely regarded in the West as an example of stifling press freedom in Myanmar, where a civil government operates at the pleasure of the former military rulers. Documents in their possession and on their phones were "not public information".

Mystery Woman in Shackles Seen Ringing Neighbors' Doorbells - Dark Truth Emerges
He also said she is not linked to any missing persons cases. "A man was found deceased inside the home", he continued. At about 3:30AM, someone rang the doorbell at a number of homes, but disappeared by the time they answered the door.

"The government can detain us in the prison but. don't close the ears and eyes of the people", Kyaw Soe Oo said.

The case has sparked an outcry among the global 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.

How were the Reuters reporters arrested?

Two journalists from the worldwide news agency Reuters were jailed in Myanmar on Monday.

Reuters published the results of the journalists' investigation in February, after Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were already detained.

"The judge has appeared to have ignored evidence and to have ignored Myanmar law".

They were focused on the massacre of 10 Rohingya by police and soldiers in the village of Inn Din.

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