Myanmar charges two journalists covering Rohingya crisis underOfficial Secrets Act



Prosecutors in Myanmar have formally charged two journalists from the Reuters news agency with violating the Official Secrets Act, signalling the case will go forward despite international condemnation.

Journalists Wa Loneand and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on 12 December after police accused them of violating the British colonial-era law by acquiring “important secret papers” from two policemen. The police officers had worked in Rakhine state, where security forces are blamed for rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims that have sparked the exodus of some 650,000 people to Bangladesh.

The two journalists had worked on Reuters coverage of the crisis in Rakhine

Than Zaw Aung, the lawyer for the journalists, said the prosecutor formally indicted the pair at Wednesday’s hearing. They face up to 14 years in prison if convicted.

Than Zaw Aung said he appealed for the two to be immediately released on bail, but the judge said he would review that request and rule at the next hearing on 23 January. “We are still far from the verdict,” he said. 

The ministry of information has cited the police as saying they were arrested for possessing important and secret government documents related to Rakhine state and security forces.

The ministry said they illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media.

The Official Secrets Act dates back to 1923, when Myanmar, then known as Burma, was a province of British India.


The reporters have told relatives they were arrested almost immediately after being handed some documents at a restaurant by two policemen they had not met before.




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