Kamayut Media news producer Hanthar Nyein is serving a two-year prison sentence for incitement, a charge Myanmar’s military regime has used broadly to stifle independent news reporting since staging a democracy-suspending coup in 2021. He faces a separate criminal charge under the Electronic Act that was in trial in late 2022.
On March 21, 2022, Hanthar was convicted and sentenced under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad provision that criminalizes incitement and the dissemination of false news, according to CPJ reporting and Kamayut Media editor-in-chief Nathan Maung, who communicated with CPJ via email.
On the same day as his conviction, Hanthar was also charged under Article 33(a) of the Electronic Transaction Law, an anti-state provision that bars using electronic means in ways detrimental to state security or law order. Convictions under the provision carry maximum seven-year prison penalties.
Hanthar appeared in court once a week on the Electronic Transaction Law charge beginning in March 2022 and hearings were ongoing as of late November, according to Maung.
Hanthar was arrested along with Maung on March 9, 2021, at the news website’s bureau in Yangon, according to news reports and Maung. 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.
As of late 2022, Hanthar was in “good health and strong” while being held at Yangon’s Insein Prison, Maung told CPJ by email.
Maung, an American national, was released and deported to the United States on June 15, 2021. Hanthar previously worked as a local producer for various international news organizations, including ABC, CNN, NPR, and NHK, according to Maung.
The Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment sent in late 2022 on Hanthar’s legal status and the accusations that he was tortured in custody.