Detained Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone are escorted by police as they leave after a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, on August 20, 2018. The journalists will have their appeal heard at the Myanmar Supreme Court on March 26. (Ann Wang/Reuters)

Myanmar Supreme Court to hear appeal of jailed Reuters reporters

March 24, 2019 5:27 PM ET

Bangkok, March 25, 2019 -- The Supreme Court of Myanmar will hear an appeal by the lawyers of jailed Reuters news agency reporters Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone on March 26, according to a statement from Reuters seen by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The reporters are each serving seven-year sentences under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act for allegedly possessing and disseminating secret information sensitive to national security; they were originally sentenced on September 3, 2018, and have been in jail since December 12, 2017, according to CPJ reporting.

"Myanmar still has a chance to right the wrong committed against jailed Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. "We urge the Supreme Court to come down on the right side of justice by reversing their convictions and setting them free."

In January, Myanmar's High Court in Yangon rejected an appeal by the reporters and upheld their sentences, paving the way for an appeal at the supreme court, as CPJ and Reuters covered at the time.

As CPJ reported in January, the reporters' lawyers argued that the lower court wrongly placed the burden of proof on the defendants, that the state prosecutors failed to prove any criminal wrongdoing, and that the reporters were set up by police who planted supposedly secret documents on them after a December 2017 meeting.

At the time of their initial arrests, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were investigating a massacre of Rohingya men and boys by security forces in Myanmar's western Rakhine State; their reporting was published in Reuters on February 8, and led to seven soldiers being sentenced to prison for their involvement in the killings.

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