Bangkok, December 13, 2022 – In response to news reports that a Myanmar court on December 9 sentenced journalist Sithu Aung Myint to seven years in prison for sedition, adding to his existing five-year sentence, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement calling for his immediate release:
“Sithu Aung Myint’s harsh sentencing is the latest disgraceful abuse of power in Myanmar’s spiraling legal persecution of independent journalists,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Myanmar must stop jailing journalists for merely doing their jobs of reporting the news, and release Sithu Aung Myint and all other members of the press at once.”
Sithu Aung Myint, a contributor to U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America and other news outlets, was convicted and sentenced by a court at Yangon’s Insein Prison for violating Section 124 of the penal code, an anti-state provision that outlaws inciting sedition, those news reports said. His legal team plans to file an appeal, according to those reports.
A court in the prison previously sentenced him in October to three years in prison with hard labor for violating Section 505(a) of the penal code, a broad provision that criminalizes incitement and the dissemination of “false news.” On November 24, he was given a separate two-year sentence under the same provision for denigrating the military, news reports said.
Sithu Aung Myint was first arrested on August 15, 2021, at an apartment in Yangon with fellow journalist Htet Htet Khine while fleeing a warrant for his arrest related to his journalism.
VOA Burmese Service editor Than Lwin Htun previously told CPJ that Sithu Aung Myint contributed reporting to a weekly program since 2014 and that it was not clear which reports triggered his arrest.
Myanmar was the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists in 2021, according to CPJ’s December 1 prison census. CPJ will release its 2022 census of journalists jailed worldwide on December 14.