The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today condemned the sentencing of two reporters of Reuters in Myanmar to seven years each in prison on charges of breaching the Official Secrets Act.
“The process that resulted in their convictions was a travesty of justice and will cast Myanmar as an anti-democratic pariah as long as they (Reuters reporters) are wrongfully held behind bars,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative, in a statement.
The statement issued in Bangkok said the ruling against Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in Yangon on baseless charges marked a new setback for press freedom in Myanmar.
Defense Attorney Khin Maung Zaw, speaking in front of the court after the verdict, said the journalists would appeal against the ruling “as soon as possible”.
He said, “The verdict is bad for the rule of law, bad for freedom of expression, bad for the right to information, and bad for democratic concepts,” according to a live Reuters feed monitored by CPJ.
The two reporters have been jailed since their arrest on December 12, 2017, after they had dinner with and received documents from two police officers in the commercial capital of Yangon.
They were charged under the Official Secrets Act for possessing the documents, which authorities later claimed were sensitive to national security. The journalists were repeatedly denied bail.