A Myanmar judge sentenced two Reuters journalists on Monday to seven years in jail for breaching a law on state secrets.
A judge found that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo breached the Official Secrets Act by obtaining confidential documents. The journalists were arrested on December 12, 2017, while investigating military operations in northern Rakhine State.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said [press release] that the verdict, “sends a message to all journalists in Myanmar that they cannot operate fearlessly, but must rather make a choice to either self-censor or risk prosecution.” Amnesty International Director of Crisis Response Tirana Hassan responded [press release], “simply because they dared to ask uncomfortable questions about military atrocities in Rakhine State. These convictions must be quashed, and both men immediately and unconditionally released.” Hassan also commented, “this amounts to censorship through fear” in response to the journalists’ convictions.
Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, also expressed concern for the conviction by stating [press release], “In a free country, it is the duty of a responsible press to keep people informed and hold leaders accountable. The conviction of two journalists for doing their job is another terrible stain on the Burmese government. We will continue to call for their immediate and unconditional release.”
The final report was a collaboration with other journalists at Reuters and was published in February of 2018, just two months after Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were imprisoned. Their findings about Myanmar and the massacre that occurred by the military can be found here [Reuters report].
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are able to appeal their conviction, but will remain in jail until their sentence is finished or their (as of yet unfiled) appeal is successful.