World press freedom: Myanmar judge jails two Reuters reporters

A Myanmar judge found two Reuters reporters guilty of violating a colonial-era law, the Official Secrets Act, in obtaining secret documents as they investigated security forces’ killing of Rhingya villagers. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo say they were set up, handed papers by police officials then promptly arrested by police officers. (Reuters, September 2, 2018, by Shoon Naing, and Aye Min Thant)

Reuters editor-in-chief Sephen J. Adler said the set up and imprisonment represents a major setback for Myanmar. “This is a major step backward in Myanmar’s transition to democracy,” said Adler and “cannot be squared with the rule of law or freedom of speech, and must be corrected by the Myanmar government as a matter of urgency. We will not wait while Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo suffer this injustice and will evaluate how to proceed in the coming days, including whether to seek relief in an international forum.” (Reuters, September 2, 2018)

Peter Vernon in the Columbia Journalism Review, September 4, 2018, wrote “With press freedoms under attack around the globe, the case of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo has become a symbol of excessive government crackdowns. Their sentencing marks a dark day for those who support a free and independent media.”

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