Two journalists from news agency Reuters, Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, and Wa Lone, 32 have been sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment by a court in Myanmar. The verdict was ruled under the official secrets law for illegal possession of official documents.
The journalists pleaded not guilty in the court and stated that they were framed by the police. Both reporters have been reporting on the alleged ethnic cleansing and human rights violations on Rohingyas by the Myanmar army in the Rakhine state of Myanmar.
According to Reuters, the journalist told the court that the documents he is accused of breaking state secrets laws to obtain were planted by a police officer, who handed him papers he had not sought in order to entrap him. Wa Lone had told the court that he followed the journalistic ethics in his reporting of the Rohingya massacre.
Lone said that he had not reviewed the documents properly before he was arrested, so could not speak about their contents. He repeatedly said he had not violated Myanmar media law. “The documents found in my hands were given by Police Lance Corporal Naing Lin to set us up and arrest us,” Wa Lone told the court.
Naing Lin had earlier testified during pre-trial hearings that he met the reporters at a restaurant on Dec. 12, but said that he did not hand them anything.
Reuters Editor-in-chief Stephen J Adler in response to the verdict, said, “Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the press everywhere.” According to the agency, the two journalists were detained in Myanmar on December 12, 2017, during which time they had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in Rakhine.
According to UN agencies, a UN-mandated fact-finding mission is set to release a report on the crackdown, which triggered the exodus of more than 700,000 stateless Muslim Rohingya later in the day.