Former columnist jailed for 'abusive' posts on Suu Kyi
A former columnist for state media has been jailed for seven years for "abusive" Facebook posts about Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a court official said yesterday, the latest case threatening free expression in the country.
Ngar Min Swe was sentenced for sedition on Tuesday, Yangon's Western District Court spokesman Htay Aung told AFP.
"He was convicted... for writing abusive posts on Facebook against State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, making people get the wrong impression of her," Htay Aung said.
Myanmar has already faced widespread condemnation for infringing on freedom of expression following the jailing earlier this month of two Reuters journalists who reported on the Rohingya crisis.
Ngar Min Swe worked as a columnist under the previous military-backed government.
He was arrested on July 12, the same day he posted about Suu Kyi receiving a kiss on the cheek from US President Barack Obama during his visit in 2013.
The innocuous gesture came in for criticism from a conservative Myanmar public, especially supporters of the army-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party -- like Ngar Min Swe, who took to social media to lob sexist jibes at Suu Kyi.
Independent analyst David Mathieson said the sentence is yet another example of "the strangulation of free speech" in the country.
"Myanmar is in free-fall to resurgent autocracy and imprisoning journalists for colonial-era sounding 'sedition' is yet another warning sign," Mathieson told AFP.
Meanwhile, British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt arrived in Myanmar yesterday for a busy two-day trip in which he will visit the epicentre of the Rohingya crisis and meet Aung San Suu Kyi.