With Agency Report
A court in Myanmar has found guilty two Reuters journalists and sentenced each of them to seven years in prison for violating a state secret act while investigating violence against the Rohingya minority.
Judge Ye Lwin pronounced them guilty because they “intended to harm the interests of the state”.
The police arrested Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, citizens of Myanmar, December last year when they were found with official documents which had just been given to them by police officers.
The two journalists had been collecting evidence about the murders of 10 Rohingya men by the army in the village of Inn Din in northern Rakhine in September 2017.
They were arrested before the report could be published, after being handed some documents by two policemen who they met at the restaurant for the first time.
Though the two journalists have maintained their innocence, saying they were set up by police, the court was not persuaded.
The verdict has been widely criticised by observers and human rights groups.
“We are extremely disappointed by this verdict,” Britain’s ambassador to Myanmar, Dan Chugg, said according to Reuters.
Similarly, US ambassador Scot Marciel said the court’s decision was “deeply troubling for everybody who has struggled so hard here for media freedom”.
“Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and press freedom anywhere,” Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said.
Meanwhile, the journalists have remained unbowed by the verdict.
“I have no fear,” Wa Lone said after the verdict. “I have not done anything wrong. I believe in justice, democracy and freedom.”