Reuters reporters’ appeal gets rejected by an apex court in Myanmar

Detained Reuters journalist Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo arrive at court last August

"It was a suitable punishment", High Court Judge Aung Naing said of the sentence.

The pair may appeal this latest decision in Myanmar's supreme court in the capital of Naypyitaw.

Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen J Adler called the court's rejection as "yet another injustice" against the two reporters. In a statement, the European Union called Friday's decision "another setback to media freedom, the public's right to information and the rule of law in Myanmar".

At the time of their arrest, they had been working on a story about a massacre of ten Rohingya Muslim men and boys in Rakhine state, allegedly by government forces and Buddhist civilians, during an anti-Rohingya crackdown by the government that sent almost 700,000 Rohingya fleeing into Bangladesh amid mass rapes and killings and the razing of hundreds of villages.

Options are dwindling for the two young men.

"Today's verdict undermines democracy in Myanmar and sends a chilling message to all journalists in Myanmar", Ms. Freeland said in a statement.

The reporters' work and stand for freedom of the press have earned them awards and plaudits. "Any country that rejects these vital preconditions for democratic success can not reach its full potential".

This morning, however, a judge ruled that it was a "reasonable decision" that was "not wrong according to the law" as he dismissed the appeal.

The defense lawyer has claimed, "The arrest at the traffic stop is a lie". They told the appeal court the lower court that tried the case had wrongly placed the burden of proof on the defendants.

The defense also said prosecutors had failed to prove the reporters gathered and collected secret information, sent information to an enemy of Myanmar or meant to harm national security.

At the time of the arrest they were probing a massacre of 10 Rohingya.

"We thought that they would be free today", she said. "It can not be said that it was a set-up", he said.

United Nations investigators have called for top Myanmar generals to be investigated for genocide, and criticised the country's de facto leader Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for failing to stop the attacks.

Jeremy Hunt, Britain's foreign secretary, said the leader of Myanmar should be taking a personal interest in the case and determining whether due process was adhered to.

Khine Khine Soe, a legal officer representing the government, told the appeal hearing last month that the evidence showed the reporters had collected and kept confidential documents. "We are very disappointed with the judgment", he said.

Before their arrest, the reporters had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians in western Myanmar's Rakhine State during an army crackdown that began in August 2017.

The violent military campaign in 2017 forced more than 720,000 Rohingya across the border to Bangladesh, with refugees bringing accounts of murder, rape and arson.



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