Editors Thant and Tin were arrested in the early morning of July 8 at their respective homes. Staff reporter Hein was arrested the following day after police raided and seized equipment and documents from the weekly newspaper’s Rangoon bureau. Khaing and Tun, the publishers, were arrested on July 16 after being deported from Thailand where Khaing, his wife, Ei Ei San, and Tun, had fled.
All five were sentenced on October 16, 2014, to two years in prison on anti-state charges. On October 27, a district court in Rangoon rejected an appeal to review their case and overturn their sentences. On August 4, Rangoon’s Pabedan district court had reduced earlier national security-related charges under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act that carried possible seven-year prison terms to the less punitive charge of defamation of the state. The court also ordered the release of Bi Mon Te Nay editor Ye Min Aung due to lack of evidence. He had been held for nearly a month.
The state-lodged criminal charges stemmed from a Bi Mon Te Nay front-page story on July 7 that quoted an activist group’s statement that claimed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic group leaders had formed an interim government to depose President Thein Sein’s military-backed administration. Suu Kyi, currently a member of parliament, was held under house arrest for 15 out of 21 years under the previous ruling junta.
Bi Mon Te Nay stopped publishing after police raided its bureau and confiscated equipment and documents, according to local reports. All five journalists were being held at Rangoon’s Insein Prison after sentencing.