Myanmar: Court rejects appeal of two Reuters’ journalists

The Myanmar Supreme Court today rejected the appeal filed by two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were sentenced to seven years in jail. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns the decision and demands the journalists’ immediate release.

@AFP

According to Reuters,  Supreme Court Justice Soe Naing told the court that the journalists' appeal against a 7-year prison sentence had been rejected.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been incarcerated since their arrest in December 2017 after being set up by police with a promise of ‘official leaked documents’. This followed their extensive investigation into war crimes against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State, specifically the September 2017 massacre of 10 Rohingyan men and boys, with strong allegations that connected the army leadership with the responsibility. They won a Pulitzer prize for this coverage.

The Ministry of Information released a statement the day after their arrest stating the two journalists had illegally acquired documents, intending to share them with foreign media.

On 3rd September 2018 they were sentenced to a 7-year jail term and charged under the Official Secrets Act. 

The journalists’ lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that there was lack of evidence and that the police had set the reporters up. Last year, a policeman testified in the court that officers had planted secret documents on the two journalists.

On 11th January 2019, the Yangon High Court rejected an earlier appeal. They have been detained in prison for more than 16 months. 

In a statement released today Reuters Chief Counsel Gail Gove said: “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did. Instead, they were victims of a police set-up to silence their truthful reporting. We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible.”

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Today’s decision is bad for the press and bad for democracy. It highlights the state of oppression against critical voices in Myanmar . It is important for everyone, including military high-ranking officials, to respect and guarantee the safety of journalists. Once again, we call on the Myanmar authorities to immediately release Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who have simply been doing their jobs as journalists to investigate and serve the public interest.”

 

 

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