Kamayut Media news producer Hanthar Nyein is serving a seven-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, and for violating the Electronic Transactions Law.
Hanthar was arrested along with Kamayut Media editor-in-chief Nathan 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.
On March 21, 2022, Hanthar was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad provision that criminalizes incitement and the dissemination of false news, according to Maung, who communicated with CPJ via email, and CPJ reporting.
On December 26, 2022, an Insein Prison court sentenced Hanthar to five years in prison under Section 33(b) of the Electronic Transactions Law, an anti-state provision that bars using electronic means in ways detrimental to state security or law order, according to news reports and Maung. The conviction was handed down just as Hanthar had nearly completed his two-year sentence under Article 505(a), Maung said.
Maung said he believes Kamayut was targeted for its coverage of protests against the military’s February 1, 2021, coup and previous human rights reporting on the Rohingya refugee crisis and the military’s abuses. The military junta has cracked down on Myanmar’s independent media, detaining and sentencing 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.
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.
In 2023, Hanthar was “healthy and strong spiritually” and allowed to meditate and read books while being held at Yangon’s Insein Prison, Maung told CPJ by email in October.
The Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment on Hanthar’s convictions, health, and the accusations that he was tortured in custody sent in late 2023.