Myat Kalay, an editor with the local Mandalay Free Press outlet, was arrested in Mandalay in January 2023 and is serving a seven-year sentence after being convicted on charges of terrorism.
The Mandalay Free Press, established in 2019, is an independent news outlet that specializes in political and conflict news from Myanmar’s central Mandalay and Sagaing regions. Myat Kalay, also known as Naing Win Tun, has worked for the online publication since its founding.
Myat Kalay’s arrest and sentencing came in the wake of the military’s February 1, 2021, democracy-suspending 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.
On January 25, 2023, Myat Kalay was arrested at his home in Mandalay after returning from several months in exile in Mae Sot, Thailand, Mandalay Free Press editor Maung Thar told CPJ via messaging app.
Myat Kalay had fled to Thailand after Mandalay Free Press video editor Aung Zaw Zaw was arrested in January 2022 and later sentenced to two years in prison on incitement charges.
Myat Kalay was physically abused during interrogations after his arrest, Maung Thar said, citing information from his family.
On June 30, 2023, Myat Kalay was sentenced by a Mandalay court to seven years in prison under Section 52(c) of the Counter Terrorism Law, according to Maung Thar. He was being held at Mandalay’s Obo Prison in late 2023 and was in good health, the editor said.
The Detained Journalists Information Myanmar private Facebook group confirmed the reporter’s arrest, conviction, and sentence in email correspondence with CPJ in November.
As of late 2023, the Myanmar Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment on Myat Kalay’s arrest, sentencing, and treatment in detention, including the allegations of abuse.