Myanmar reporter Than Htike Aung was arrested on March 19, 2021, in front of the Dekkhina District court in Naypyidaw. He is currently being held in pre-trial detention.
He was arrested while reporting on a scheduled hearing for a detained political leader that he was covering for the Mizzima news website, according to news reports and a database maintained by the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners rights group, and Mizzima founder and chairman Soe Myint, who communicated with CPJ by email.
Than Htike Aung is being held at Naypyidaw’s Zabuthiri Township police station on charges under Article 505(a) of the penal code, according to those sources. The broad provision 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.”
His arrest came in the wake of the military’s February 1, 2021, democracy-suspending coup and subsequent protests. The military junta cracked down on Myanmar’s independent media, detaining dozens of journalists, according to those sources and CPJ research.
Convictions under that provision allow for a maximum three-year prison sentence. His first court appearance was held on September 22, according to Soe Myint.
Military authorities rescinded the operating licenses of five news outlets including Mizzima for unstated reasons on March 8, news reports said.
The Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s emailed request sent in late November 2021 for comment on his legal status and treatment in detention.