New York, April 22, 2019–The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed deep disappointment today after the Myanmar Supreme Court upheld Reuters’ journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s convictions. Reuters reported that the Supreme Court justice said the appeal was rejected and did not elaborate further.
“Myanmar authorities have committed a grave injustice to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and their families, and criminalized independent journalism,” said CPJ Senior Southeast Asia Representative Shawn Crispin, from Bangkok. “They should both be free and able to continue their reporting, not sitting in jail cells. Their conviction and sentence will be an enduring stain on Myanmar’s reputation.”
The two journalists were arrested in December 2017 and convicted in September 2018 of allegedly possessing and disseminating secret information sensitive to national security under Myanmar’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, according to CPJ reporting; they were each sentenced to seven years in prison.
In January, Myanmar’s High Court in Yangon rejected the reporters’ appeal, thereby elevating the case to the Supreme Court, which heard the appeal on March 26, as CPJ reported at the time.
At the time of their arrest, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were investigating a massacre of Rohingya men and boys by Myanmar security forces in Rakhine state; their reporting was subsequently published by Reuters in February 2018 and led to seven soldiers being sentenced to prison for their involvement in the killings.