Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Win Myint, President of the Republic of Myanmar has expressed concern over the sentencing of two Reuter’s reporters to seven years imprisonment, for illegal possession of official documents and breach of Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act, during their reporting of a massacre of the Rohingya.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter, condemned the decision to punish the journalists and called on the authorities to immediately release both Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oe.
According to Mizzima News, a Myanmar Judge Ye Lwin on September 3, found the two journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oe guilty of breaching law and sentenced them to seven years in prison.
The Yangon court judgment said, “It is found that the culprits intended to harm the interests of the state. And so they have been found guilty under the state secrets act.”
Both Myanmar nationals have been arrested and detained in Yangon’s Insein prison since December, 2017. They were charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, a draconian British colonial-era law which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
The case was highlighted by the international community as an attempt to muzzle reporting on last year’s crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine state by Myanmar’s security forces.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oe both denied the accusations, claiming they were doing their jobs to reveal the extrajudicial murder of 10 Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine village in September, 2017.
The reporters said that the police invited them for dinner and handed them documents and after leaving the restaurant both of them were arrested for being in possession of confidential documents.