A Myanmar court sentenced two Reuters news agency reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, to seven years each in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act this week, Reuters reported.
"Today's ruling against Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo on bogus charges marks a new press freedom low for Myanmar," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "The process that resulted in their convictions was a travesty of justice and will cast Myanmar as an anti-democratic pariah as long as they are wrongfully held behind bars. We call on Myanmar's civilian authorities to immediately release the journalists."
Defense attorney Khin Maung Zaw, speaking in front of the court after the verdict, said the journalists would appeal the ruling "as soon as possible." He said: "The verdict is bad for the rule of law, bad for freedom of expression, bad for the right to information, and bad for democratic concepts."
The reporters have been jailed since their arrest on December 12, 2017, after they had dinner with and received documents from two police officers in the commercial capital of Yangon. They were charged under the Official Secrets Act for possessing the documents, which authorities later claimed were sensitive to national security. The journalists were repeatedly denied bail.
IMAGE: Protestors chant ‘let them speak’ while marching to show solidarity for jailed Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in Yangon, Myanmar, two days before a local court sentenced them to 7 years in prison on charges of breaching the country's Official Secrets Act. (Reuters/Ann Wang)