Bangkok, June 15, 2021 – In response to Myanmar authorities’ decision today to release editor Nathan Maung from custody and deport him to the United States, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“While we welcome Nathan Maung’s release from prison in Myanmar, he never should have been detained in the first place,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Myanmar’s junta should follow through by releasing all of the dozens of journalists it now wrongly holds behind bars, and ensuring that members of the press are not detained for their work going forward.”
Authorities deported Maung, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Kamayut Media news website, earlier today after dropping criminal charges against him under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a provision that punishes the dissemination of information or “fake news” that could agitate or cause security forces or officials to mutiny, CNN reported. If convicted, he could have faced up to three years in prison, according to that report.
Authorities first arrested Maung and Hanthar Nyein, a news producer and Kamayut Media co-founder, on March 9, and allegedly abused both journalists in an interrogation center, as CPJ documented. Nyein remains in custody, according to CNN.
Myanmar’s military regime currently holds dozens of journalists behind bars, according to preliminary investigations by CPJ based on reporting, news reports, and research by the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, a local rights group. The majority have been detained during newsroom raids or while covering anti-coup street protests, and over half face charges under Article 505(a), that reporting shows.