A Myanmar Court on Friday rejected the appeals of two Reuters reporters who were earlier sentenced to seven years imprisonment on charges of breaking the Official Secrets Act, on the ground that the defence had not provided sufficient evidence to show that they were innocent. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe were the two reporters convicted by a lower court in September last year. The case is Landmark in the sense that this decision has raised serious questions about Myanmar’s progress towards democracy and gross human rights violations. The HC agreed with the term of punishment, calling a ‘suitable one’.
The defence still has the option of appealing against the said order to the Supreme Court in the country’s capital Naypyitaw. Reuters Editor-in-Chief, Stephen J. Adler in a statement expressed his displeasure over the sentence, calling it an injustice among many, inflicted on Lone and Soe.
Condemning those in power trying to silence the truth, Adler opined that reporting is not a crime and unless and until Myanmar rights this terrible wrong, the country’s commitment towards democracy and rule of law is at stake. US Vice President, Mike Pence also condemned the acts of Myanmar courts, tweeting that the decision has failed a simple test of democracy.
The HC judge, explaining his verdict, said that the reporters behaved in a way that intended to harm the security of the country. The judge also cited the examples of the reporters meeting members of the security forces as well as a notebook at the reporter’s house which contained phone number of a member of Arakan Army, an armed ethnic rebel group he had report about while having peace negotiations a few years ago.
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