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On September 3, 2018, a court in Yangon sentenced Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, to seven years in prison under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act in an apparent response to their reporting on military abuses against Rohingya Muslims.

The reporters, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were working for Reuters when they were arrested in December past year (2017) after being invited by policemen to meet at a restaurant in Yangon.

"The defendants.have breached Official Secrets Act section 3.1.c, and are sentenced to seven years", Reuters quoted the judge as saying.

The defendants told the court that the two reporters obtained confidential documents from two police officers on December 12, 2017.

The journalists were investigating violence against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority; a military crackdown past year sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Myanmar for refugee camps in Bangladesh, where many still remain.

Condemning the arrest of the reporters, Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler on Monday said today is a sad day for Myanmar, journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and press freedom.

US Ambassador Scot Marciel said the "deeply troubling" verdict could undermine the confidence the Myanmar people had in the justice system.

The case has been widely seen as a test of press freedom in Myanmar.

The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the sentencing of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, saying it marked a "new low for Myanmar".

The court earlier this year declined to stop the trial after an initial phase of presentation of evidence, even though a policeman called as a prosecution witness testified that his commander had ordered that documents be planted on the journalists.


Kyaw Soe Oo said that while being investigated he was deprived of sleep, forced to kneel for hours and had a black hood placed over his head. "Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should be allowed to return to their families and continue their work as journalists".

Dozens of journalists and pro-democracy activists marched on Saturday in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, in support of the reporters.

Reuters president and editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler said in a statement: "These two admirable reporters have already spent almost nine months in prison on false charges created to silence their reporting and intimidate the press".

The two were arrested on December 12 in northern Yangon.

The reporters, both Burmese nationals, said that police officers had invited them to dinner in Yangon and handed them documents, only for the pair to be arrested upon leaving the restaurant....

British ambassador Dan Chugg, speaking on behalf of European Union members, said the verdict had "dealt a hammer blow for the rule of law".

The deaths happened during a widespread campaign of violence which started last August and saw more than 700,000 Rohingya flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

As calls for Myanmar's military leaders to face an worldwide tribunal mount, they have remained defiant, insisting last year's crackdown was a proportionate response to attacks by Rohingya militants.

United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar Knut Ostby said, "A free press is essential for peace, justice and human rights for all".


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