Than Htut Aung

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Police in the commercial capital of Yangon detained Than Htut Aung, chief executive of Eleven Media Group, and Wai Phyo, chief editor of the group’s publication Daily Eleven, on November 11, 2016, on a criminal defamation charge filed by the Yangon regional government.

The complaint was filed under the country’s Telecommunications Law in response to a post on Than Htut Aung’s Facebook page that alleged a minister was involved in corruption. The post provided further details to a November 6, 2016, opinion piece published in the Daily Eleven newspaper. Neither the article nor the social media post named the minister allegedly involved in corruption, and the Facebook post was deleted, according to press reports.

Chief Minister of Yangon Phyo Min Thein said in a press conference on November 9, 2016, that the Facebook post was intended to defame his “personal dignity” and that he denied the allegations, according to news reports. The Tarmwe Township court in Yangon declined to expedite Than Htut Aung’s petition for bail during the case’s first hearing on November 25, 2016, and at a subsequent hearing five days later, according to news reports.

Defense attorney Kyaw Lin said during proceedings that Than Htut Aung had suffered a heart attack while in pre-trial detention and that he was in need of immediate health care. If convicted of the charges, he faces a potential three years in prison. As of late 2016, he was detained in Yangon’s Insein prison.