Reuters journalists lose Supreme Court appeal against seven-year sentence

By YE MON | FRONTIER

NAY PYI TAW — Myanmar’s Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal of two Reuters journalists imprisoned for breaking the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, upholding their sentence of seven years each in prison, in a case that has been widely criticized as an assault on press freedom.

Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in December 2017 while investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya men by Rakhine civilians and Myanmar security forces during a military campaign against the Muslim minority in Rakhine State.

A Yangon district court judge sentenced the pair to seven years each in prison in September 2018, ruling that they possessed “secret” documents that could have damaged national security.  

Defence lawyers appealed on the grounds that the journalists were set up by police, a claim supported by a police witness for the prosecution, who had testified that documents were planted on the pair.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

The Yangon High Court rejected an earlier appeal in January, on the grounds that lawyers acting on behalf of the two journalists had failed to submit sufficient evidence proving their innocence.

After that ruling, Reporters Without Borders urged authorities in Myanmar to end the “nightmare”.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s investigation into military atrocities committed in Rakhine State was completed by their colleagues at Reuters and published in 2018. Earlier this month it won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters

Our fortnightly magazine is available in print, digital, or a combination beginning at $80 a year

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar