Reuters journalists lose appeal, 7-year sentences stand

April 23, 2019
Category: Business & Work

Myanmar’s top court has rejected the appeal of two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists who are serving a seven-year sentence for, according to the country, breaking the Official Secrets Act.

Reuters reporters Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, have been imprisoned since December of 2017 because they were working on a story about the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys. Lawyers for the two reporters claimed there was lack of proof that they had committed a crime; they say that police set up to the two. A policeman testified last year that officers had planted secret documents on the two reporters.

Reuters chief counsel Gail Gove said in a statement Tuesday, “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did. Instead, they were victims of a police set-up to silence their truthful reporting. We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible.”

The appeal was rejected with no explanation. Supreme Court Justice Soe Naing merely said, “They were sentenced to seven years and this decision stands, and the appeal is rejected.”

The families now plan to ask Myanmar President Win Myint for a pardon.

This all stems from an investigation that uncovered security forces’ involvement in the killings, arson and looting. The two reporters were arrested, but their work was completed by colleagues and published last year. Last week, the Reuters team won the Pulitzer for international reporting.

In a statement, Shawn Crispin, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Senior Southeast Asia representative, said:Myanmar authorities have committed a grave injustice to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and their families, and criminalized independent journalism. They should both be free and able to continue their reporting, not sitting in jail cells. Their conviction and sentence will be an enduring stain on Myanmar’s reputation.”