Aung San Lin

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Myanmar journalist Aung San Lin is serving a six-year sentence with hard labor for criminal incitement and terrorism, charges Myanmar’s military regime has used broadly to stifle independent news reporting since staging a democracy-suspending coup in 2021. 

Democratic Voice of Burma (DBV) journalist Aung San Lin was arrested on December 11, 2021, by about 20 soldiers who raided his home around midnight in the Sagaing Region’s village of Pin Zin, shortly after he published an anonymous report alleging that military forces committed arson attacks on the Wetlet Township-based homes of three supporters of the coup-ousted National League for Democracy.

The journalist’s arrest came in the wake of the military’s February 1, 2021, coup and subsequent protests. Since then, the military junta has engaged in an ongoing crackdown on Myanmar’s independent media, detaining and sentencing dozens of journalists.

DVB editor-in-chief Aye Chan Naing told CPJ via email that Aung San Lin was tortured during interrogations after his arrest, which resulted in numbness and pain in his leg and frequent headaches. 

Aye Chan Naing, who received CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 2021, said authorities refused for over a month to tell his family where Aung San Lin was being held and that his wife later received an anonymous phone call demanding that she pay a bribe if she wanted to see him alive. Aye Chan Naing said she and DVB refused to pay.

On July 7, 2022, a Wetlet Township court in Sagaing convicted and sentenced Aung San Lin to six years in prison with hard labor, with four years under Section 52(b) of the Counter Terrorism Law and two years under Section 505(a) of the penal code, which criminalizes incitement and the dissemination of “false news,” according to DVB and other news reports.

Aung San Lin was being held at Shwebo Prison near the central city of Mandalay in late 2023, Aye Chan Naing told CPJ via email. The journalist was allowed to make telephone calls and receive money from his family to purchase food in prison and was in good health throughout the year, Aye Chan Naing said. 

The Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s October 2023 emailed request for comment on Aung San Lin’s conviction, sentencing, and status in prison.