Whistleblowing policeman in Reuters case freed after nine months

By YE MON | FRONTIER

YANGON — Former Police Captain Moe Yan Naing, who was sentenced to one year behind bars for violating the Police Disciplinary Act after testifying that police planted documents on Reuters reporters Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo, was released on Friday after nine months in Yangon’s Insein Prison.

His family met him outside the prison at 7.30am. Moe Yan Naing told reporters that he did not violate the Police Disciplinary Act, and that he was imprisoned on the orders of Police Brigadier General Tin Ko Ko.

Moe Yan Naing broke rank when he testified as a witness for the prosecution during the trial of the Reuters reporters that Brig-Gen Tin Ko Ko had given orders to “get” Wa Lone, by handing him sensitive documents at a meeting that Kyaw Soe Oo also attended.

Moe Yan Naing told the court that he was threatened with arrest if he did not participate in the plot.

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“The Police Disciplinary Act is not in line with other laws. This act should be amended while the country is transitioning to democracy,” he told reporters on Friday outside Insein Prison,

Police have maintained that Moe Yan Naing was charged with breaking the Police Disciplinary Act before he delivered his incriminating testimony.

U Zaw Zaw, warden at Insein Prison told Frontier that Moe Yan Naing qualified for early release because he did not violate any prison rules or regulations.

“He could have stayed for one year, but has been on best behaviour. That’s why he’s free today,” he said.

Moe Yan Naing was a key witness in the case against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo because his testimony contradicted official statements about the circumstances surrounding their December 2017 arrest.

The prosecution said police apprehended Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo during a routine search, and found they were carrying classified documents.

The journalists had been investigating the killing of 10 Muslim men in northern Rakhine State, a crime to which the military has since admitted. Moe Yan Naing was reportedly in Inn Din during the massacre.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced last September to seven years each in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act, in a ruling that has prompted global outrage.

On Friday, lawyers representing the journalists said they would lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court, after the Yangon Region High Court rejected their initial appeal in January. 

The day after Moe Yan Naing testified, his family was evicted from police accommodation in Nay Pyi Taw. Police spokespeople told media that the timing was a coincidence, but Moe Yan Naing’s brother U Ye Wint Naing told reporters at the time that the order had come “from above”.

Ye Wint Naing told Frontier in December that the former police captain’s wife and children were living in Khin-U Township, in Sagaing Region.

He said he family had never regretted Moe Yan Naing’s decision to reveal the truth.

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