A court in Myanmar on Friday rejected an appeal by two Reuters news agency reporters sentenced to seven years in jail for breaking the country’s Official Secrets Act, in a case that rallied press freedom advocates.
Lawyers for Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, had lodged the appeal in November against their conviction, citing evidence of a police set-up and lack of proof of a crime.
Before their arrest in December 2017, the two journalists had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya men and boys by security forces and local Buddhists in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state during an army crackdown that forced more than 700,000 members of the long-persecuted, mostly-Muslim minority to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.
In September last year, a Yangon district court sentenced Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo to seven years in prison for illegal possession of official documents, sparking an international outcry from activists and diplomats in a case seen by many as a test of Myanmar’s fledgeling democracy.
The pair were among a group of journalists named by Time magazine as its “Person of the Year”.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said in September 2018 that the reporters’ jailing had nothing to do with freedom of expression. In comments made the week after their conviction, she said they had been sentenced for handling official secrets and “were not jailed because they were journalists”.
More to follow…
Al Jazeera and news agencies