Bangkok, September 3, 2018–A Myanmar court today sentenced two Reuters news agency reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, to seven years each in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act, 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. “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,” according to a live Reuters feed monitored by CPJ.
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.