Journalists who investigated Rohingya massacre face jail
Reuters employees accused of violating colonial-era state secrets act
Two Reuters journalists who were arrested after investigating a Rohingya massacre in Myanmar face a ruling Monday that could see them each jailed for up to 14 years, AFP reported.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, have been locked up in Myanmar’s Insein prison since December after they were invited to a dinner with police in Yangon and then arrested after they left the restaurant.
They were charged with violating a colonial-era state secrets act for possessing classified documents about Rakhine state. Those claims have since been challenged by a police witness who said his superior officer had set them up and undermined by arguments that the documents had been published in state media.
Reuters denied the charges and hired prominent international rights attorney Amal Clooney to help, arguing that the two were simply doing their job in working to expose atrocities.
“We tried for them as much as we could the whole time,” Than Zaw Aung, one of the journalists’ lawyers, told AFP a day before the verdict. “Our journalists will be free tomorrow [Monday] if the judiciary is free and fair.”
Myanmar’s former junta routinely jailed journalists and censored the media, and many fear the Reuters trial shows that the governments repressive tendencies are getting stronger under civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.