Myanmar journalist Win Naing Oo, chief reporter with the local Channel Mandalay TV news station, is serving a five-year sentence for terrorism, a charge Myanmar’s military regime has used against the press to stifle independent news reporting since staging a democracy-suspending coup in 2021.
Win Naing Oo was arrested with his wife on August 31, 2021, in Mandalay, according to news reports and a database maintained by local rights group the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP), which said he was held in pretrial detention at the city’s Sint Kaing police station. His wife was reported to have been released shortly after his arrest.
The journalist’s arrest came in the wake of the military’s February 1, 2021, coup and subsequent protests. The military junta’s crackdown on Myanmar’s independent media, during which it has detained and sentenced dozens of journalists, continued through 2023.
On April 5, 2022, a special court in Obo Prison, in the central city of Mandalay, convicted and sentenced Win Naing Oo to five years in prison under Section 52(a) of the Counter Terrorism Law, a provision that outlaws acts of organizing or participating in a terrorist group, knowingly concealing or harboring a terrorist group, or giving permission for a terrorist group to use a building or gather, according to a report by The Irrawaddy and data compiled by AAPP.
He was initially charged under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad provision that 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.”
The 505(a) charge was changed in mid-October 2021 to one of terrorism, according to a Myanmar Now report, citing his lawyer. A defense lawyer cited in The Irrawaddy report said Win Naing Oo has no plans to appeal his conviction, which alleged that he was involved with a local anti-military People’s Defense Force in Mandalay’s Sint Kaing Township.
A Democratic Voice of Burma report said Win Naing Oo has also been charged under Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, a provision that criminalizes online defamation and allows for a three-year prison sentence, according to CPJ research. Channel Mandalay did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment sent by Facebook and email in October 2023.
Win Naing Oo was still in detention in late 2023, according to a database compiled by the Detained Journalists Information Myanmar private Facebook group, which CPJ reviewed. The Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s October 2023 emailed request for comment on his conviction, legal status, health, and treatment in detention.