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Myanmar court rejects jailed reporters' appeal

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Myanmar court rejects jailed reporters' appeal

Myanmar court rejects jailed reporters' appeal

A Myanmar court rejects the appeal of two Reuters reporters sentenced to seven years in jail on charges of breaking the Official Secrets Act, saying the defense had not provided sufficient evidence to show they were innocent.

Ryan Brooks reports.

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Myanmar court rejects jailed reporters' appeal

A Myanmar High Court on Friday (January 11) rejected an appeal by two Reuters reporters who had been sentenced to seven years in jail.

Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were charged with breaking the Official Secret Act, and they were found guilty in September.

It's a landmark case that has raised questions about Myanmar's progress towards democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates.

On Friday, a high court judge called the seven-year prison term meted out by a lower court quote "a suitable punishment." The defense has the option of making a further appeal to the country's supreme court in the capital Naypyitaw.

In their appeal arguments made in December the reporters' defense lawyers had cited evidence of a police set-up and lack of proof of a crime.

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 that they had an intention to harm national security.

The judge said the defendants did not follow journalistic ethics and that the court could not determine whether the arrest of the reporters was a trap.

A legal officer representing the government told the appeal hearing the evidence showed the reporters had collected and kept confidential documents.

He also said they intended to harm national security and the national interest.

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.

It took place during an army crackdown that began in August 2017.

The United Nations estimates the operation sent 730,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.



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