Maung Maung Myo, also known as Myo Myint Oo, a freelance reporter for Mekong News Agency, was arrested by ruling military junta officials at the Salween River Bridge checkpoint near Hpa-an, Karen state on May 10.
Officials detained Maung Maung Myo after searching his phone and found that the journalist reported on anti-coup protests and shared Mekong News Agency posts to his personal Facebook page. The media outlet was reportedly raided by junta authorities and banned after Myanmar’s military coup in February 2021.
Maung Maung Myo was charged under Section 52(a) of Myanmar’s Counter Terrorism Law, which carries a prison sentence of up to seven years. He is currently in custody at Hpa-an prison.
The journalist has reported for Mekong News Agency since 2020, covering local issues including the Covid-19 pandemic, anti-coup protests, and clashes between the military and resistance movements.
He was travelling on a train between the cities of Mandalay and Myawaddy to report on violent clashes in the Lay Kay Kaw town between military authorities and anti-junta militia groups, the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU) and the People’s Defence Force.
Lay Kay Kaw, in the southeastern Karen state, was built in 2015 as part of a ceasefire with the military and KNU. Following the 2021 military coup, the town has been a hotspot for anti-junta resistance.
Since the military coup, media freedoms and protections for journalists have rapidly declined. Myanmar is considered the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists behind China. The junta have revoked media licences, imposed internet restrictions and arbitrarily arrested media workers.
According to Reporting ASEAN, as of March 31, 122 journalists and media staff have been arrested, 48 currently detained, and 22 have been convicted.
The IFJ said: “The junta continue to use terrorism charges to arbitrarily censor, detain and charge journalists and media workers. The IFJ calls for the immediate release of Maung Maung Myo and urges the Myanmar military authorities to drop all charges against him.”