Naypyidaw, Sep 3: A Myanmar Court on Monday sentenced two Reuters journalists, who had allegedly violated a state secrets law while reporting on the Rohingya crisis, to seven years jail.
A Myanmar judge had on August 29 postponed the verdict in the case of Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone, saying it will be announced on September 3 (today). The two reporters had pleaded not guilty to violating Myanmar's colonial-era Official Secrets Act. They had contended that they were framed by police while reporting on Myanmar's brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.
"As they committed an offence under the state secrets act, they are sentenced to seven years in prison each," judge Ye Lwin told the court today.
Authorities had charged them with violating a state secrets act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years.
They were arrested in December last year after being invited to a dinner with police in Yangon and pounced on as they left the restaurant, accused of possessing classified material, a PTI report said.
Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone were probing the September 2017 massacre of 10 Rohingya men and boys in Myanmar's Rakhine state a week after the military launched a sweeping crackdown on members of the stateless Muslim minority.
The United Nations and Washington have called the campaign "ethnic cleansing", after some 700,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine for Bangladesh, bringing with them testimonies of rape, arson and killings in the northern part of the state. Myanmar rejects the charges but has admitted the killings investigated by Reuters took place.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley has last week said that the Trump administration expected to see two Reuters journalists acquitted of all charges.
Haley had then told the Security Council that "a free and responsible press is critical for any democracy".