Kamayut Media news producer Hanthar Nyein was arrested along with Editor-in-Chief Nathan Maung on March 9, 2021, at the news website’s bureau in Yangon, according to news reports and Maung, who communicated with CPJ by email. He is currently being held in pre-trial detention.
Authorities physically abused Hanthar and Maung during an initial two weeks of detention at the Yay Kyi Ai interrogation center in Insein Township, according to Maung and Hanthar’s family, who communicated with CPJ via an intermediary.
Maung said he believes Kamayut was targeted for its coverage of protests against the military’s February 1, 2021, democracy-suspending coup and previous human rights reporting on the Rohingya refugee crisis and the military’s abuses.
The military junta cracked down on Myanmar’s independent media, detaining dozens of journalists, according to those sources and CPJ research.
Hanthar was severely beaten around the head, burned on his belly, thighs, and buttocks with lit cigarettes, and made to kneel on ice while his hands were cuffed behind him during interrogations, the intermediary and Maung told CPJ.
Hanthar is being detained at Insein Prison on charges under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad provision that criminalizes “any attempt to cause fear, spread false news or agitate directly or indirectly a criminal offense against a government employee” or that “causes their hatred, disobedience, or disloyalty toward the military and the government,” according to those sources. Convictions under the provision allow for maximum three-year prison penalties.
Maung, an American national, was released and deported to the United States on June 15, as CPJ has reported. Hanthar previously worked as a local producer for various international news organizations, including ABC, CNN, NPR, and NHK, according to Maung.
Hanthar’s trial was ongoing as of mid-November 2021, according to Maung.
The Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment sent in late November 2021 on Hanthar’s legal status and the accusations that he was tortured in custody.