YANGON AFP, Sept3, 2018 -Two Reuters journalists accused of breaching Myanmar’s state secrets law during their reporting of a massacre of Rohingya Muslims were jailed for seven years Monday, drawing outrage over the attack on media freedom and calls for their immediate release.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who have been held in Yangon’s Insein prison since their arrest in December, were charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, a draconian British colonial-era law which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
The case has sparked an outcry among the international community as an attempt to muzzle reporting on last year’s crackdown by Myanmar’s security forces on the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.
Army-led “clearance operations” drove 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, carrying with them widespread accounts of atrocities -- rape, murder and arson -- by Myanmar security forces.
The reporters denied the charges, insisting they were set up while exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine village of Inn Din in September last year.
They said they were arrested after being invited to dinner by police in Yangon who handed them documents. As they left the restaurant, the pair were detained for possessing classified material.