2 Reuters journalists arrested in Yangon, facing Official Secrets Act charges

By MRATT KYAW THU | FRONTIER

YANGON — Two reporters, including a correspondent from the Yangon bureau of the Reuters news service, were arrested on the northern outskirts of the commercial capital last night and will face charges under Myanmar’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, Frontier has learned.

Ko Wa Lone, 31, and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were walking north on the Number 3 Main Road in Mingalardon Township, near the corner of Nilar Road, at 11:30pm on Tuesday.

During a search of the pair, police allegedly found the pair in possession of two military reports  and a map of a location in Rakhine State.

It is unclear why the pair was travelling on foot in such a remote location at that time of night.

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Frontier has been told that the Htaukkyant Police Station has accepted criminal charges filed by an adjutant military officer. The charges, under Section 3.1 of the Official Secrets Act, mandate a maximum 14-year penalty for the unlawful possession of military documents.

Wa Lone, formerly a senior reporter for the Myanmar Times, joined Reuters in July 2016. He has regularly reported on military activities in northern Rakhine State.

Frontier understands that Kyaw Soe Oo had been assisting Reuters with their coverage of military affairs in Rakhine State.

Reuters have not confirmed the arrest. 

“Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been reporting on events of global importance in Myanmar, and we learned today that they have been arrested in connection with their work,” said Mr Stephen J. Adler, the Reuters president and editor-in-chief. “We are outraged by this blatant attack on press freedom. We call for authorities to release them immediately.”

This article was updated on Thursday to include comment from Reuters. 

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