Yangon, Apr 24 : Myanmar's top court has rejected the appeal of two Reuters reporters, who are serving a sentence of seven years for breaking the Official Secrets Act. The two were arrested in December 2017 while working on an investigative story into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men, including two boys by the locals with the help of country's security personnel.
The journalists’ lawyer, Than Zaw Aung, said the court gave no reason for rejecting the appeal, The Myanmar Times reported on Wednesday. “We tried our best through the legal process, but we can’t do any more as this is the highest court of Myanmar,” Than Zaw Aung said. Reuters news agency has vowed to continue fighting for the two journalists’ freedom. “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did. Instead, they were victims of a police set-up to silence their truthful reporting. We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible,” Reuters Chief Counsel Gail Gove said in a statement.
The US Embassy in Myanmar also expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court ruling. It noted that the decision points to an increasing intolerance for free speech in Myanmar. “Journalism, satire, peaceful protest, and other forms of legitimate expression should not be crimes in a democratic society,” it said in a statement. The wives of the imprisoned journalists said the decision quashed their last hope of being reunited with their husbands. “I hoped that the high court would reduce their prison term even if they didn’t release them, but they totally rejected their appeal. I was so sad to hear that,” said Pan Ei Mon, wife of Wa Lone.
The two reporters were arrested on the outskirts of Yangon on December 13, 2017, after meeting with a police source who handed them documents. Among the documents were the disposition of police forces in northern Rakhine State.
The duo had been investigating reports of the massacre of 10 Rakhine Muslims by government troops at Inn Din village in northern Rakhine in August 2017. The story about the murders was published in February, about two months after their arrest.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were awarded the UNESCO Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize on April 10, and a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting on April 15. They were also named Time magazine’s Persons of the Year for 2018. (UNI)