Burmese leader Suu Kyi defends verdict against Reuters journalists

Myanmar government leader Aung San Suu Kyi, on September 13 strongly defended a Burmese court decision to jail two Reuters news agency reporters who were arrested while investigating alleged war crimes against Rohingya Muslims, adding that they can appeal their seven-year jail sentence.

Suu Kyi said, “They were not jailed because they were journalists, they were jailed because … the court has decided that they have broken the Official Secrets Act.”

She said this while attending an international economics conference in Vietnam. During her address she also admitted that her government could in hindsight have handled the Rohingya crisis differently.

Two Reuters journalists named Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were imprisoned last week after the court found them guilty of breaching the country’s hardline Official Secrets Act while reporting on atrocities committed by security forces during the brutal crackdown in Rakhine state.

Suu Kyi further added, “I wonder whether many people have actually read the summary of the judgement which had nothing to do with freedom of expression at all, it had to do with an Official Secrets Act.”

“If we believe in the rule of law, they have every right to appeal the judgment and to point out why the judgement was wrong,” Suu Kyi said.