Myanmar jails Reuters journalists over Rohingya investigation

September 3, 2018

A court in Myanmar has sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison for violating a state secrets act while investigating violence against Rohingyas.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested last year while carrying official documents which had just been given to them by police.

They have maintained their innocence, saying they were set up by police.

The case has been widely seen as a test of press freedom in Myanmar. Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said, “”Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and press freedom anywhere.””

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, had been collecting evidence about the execution of 10 men by the army in the village of Inn Din in northern Rakhine.

During their investigation, they were offered documents by two police officers, but were arrested immediately afterwards for the possession of those documents. Authorities later launched their own probe into the killings, confirming the massacre took place and promising action to be taken against those who had taken part.

The verdict comes a year after the crisis in Rakhine state came to a head when a Rohingya militant group attacked several police posts.

Media access to Rakhine is strictly controlled by the government so it is difficult to get reliable news from the region.