Myanmar: High Court of Yangon rejects appeal by jailed Reuters journalists


A Myanmar court on Friday has rejected the appeal of two Reuters reporters, who were arrested and sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for breaking the Official Secrets Act.

The judge of High Court of Yangon stated that the defence lawyers had failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove the innocence of these two journalists. Now, the defence can appeal to the Supreme Court, based in the capital Naypyitaw.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, aged between 28 and 32, were penalized in September 2018 after the trial took place at a Yangon district court and the judgement raised several questions on Myanmar's concept of democracy. They are facing the charges of violating a colonial-era Act for illegally obtaining state secrets related to the Rohingya crisis in Rakhine state.

Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler said in a statement, "Today's ruling is yet another injustice among many inflicted upon Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. They remain behind bars for one reason: those in power sought to silence the truth."

"Reporting is not a crime, and until Myanmar rights, this terrible wrong, the press in Myanmar is not free, and Myanmar's commitment to rule of law and democracy remains in doubt," he further added.

Earlier Reuters said that before the arrest, both of them were working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and local Buddhists in Myanmar's Rakhine state during an army operation that began on 2017 August.

In December 2018, the defence lawyers had shown the evidence of a police set-up and lack of proof of a crime. They also said that the prosecutors had failed to prove that their clients had gathered and collected secret information and sent them to the enemies of the country or had used them to harm the national security. But, as per the Judge Aung Naing, the reporters acted in a way that showed the intention to harm the country.

However, after the verdict, the wife of reporter Kyaw Soe Oo, Chit Su Win said that she has lost all the hopes now.

This article was first published on January 12, 2019
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