Voice chief editor bailed as 66(d) case continues

By HTUN KHAING | FRONTIER

YANGON — The Bahan Township court has granted bail to U Kyaw Min Swe, chief editor of The Voice newspaper, two months after his detention for publishing a satirical article that took aim at Myanmar’s military.

Greeted by family and colleagues at the court, Kyaw Min Swe called a press conference back at his offices nearby, telling reporters he would not be issuing any further apology to the Tatmadaw as the case continues.

“I don’t apologise for an act I didn’t commit,” he said. “The Tatmadaw is very important for our country, and I never insulted them.”

Kyaw Min Swe and colleague ‘British’ Ko Ko Maung were arrested in June and charged under the notorious section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, which criminalises defamation on social media.

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Ko Ko Maung was later released after the prosecution could not determine whether he had shared over Facebook his article, a satirical look at the peace process and a recent film vaunting the military’s battles against ethnic armed groups and.

The court had rejected six earlier bail applications since his arrest. Kyaw Min Swe still faces a maximum three-year sentence under the law.

This week, the Union parliament in Nay Pyi Taw approved minor changes to the Telecommunications Law, which activists and dissenting lawmakers have condemned as not enough to protect against future prosecutions.

Bail for prosecutions under section 66(d) has been rare until this week, with most defendants kept in custody for the duration of their trials.

On Sunday evening, prominent investigative journalist Ko Swe Win, chief editor of the Myanmar Now newsagency, was detained at Yangon Airport on Sunday night and transported to Mandalay the following day, where he was immediately bailed by the Maha Aung Myay Township Court.

Swe Win had been facing an outstanding 66(d) charge relating to a Facebook comment about U Wirathu, relating to the prominent nationalist monk’s praise of the assassination of government advisor U Ko Ni in January.

Meanwhile, three journalists detained in Hsipaw on Unlawful Associations Act charges were denied bail in their latest courtroom appearance today.

Ko Lawi Weng of The Irrawaddy, along with U Aye Naing and Ko Pyae Phone Aung, each face a minimum two-year sentence after attending an anti-drug ceremony by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.

By Htun Khaing

By Htun Khaing

Htun Khaing is a Myanmar journalist. Before joining Frontier, he spent more than three years on staff at 7 Day News Journal.
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