A Myanmar court on September 3 found two Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, guilty of breaching a law on state secrets and sentenced them to seven years in prison, in a landmark case seen as a test of progress towards democracy in the Southeast Asian country.
Yangon northern district judge Ye Lwin said both the journalists breached the colonial-era Official Secrets Act when they collected and obtained confidential documents.
The Judge said, “The defendants … have breached Official Secrets Act section 3.1.c, and are sentenced to seven years.”
The judge further said, adding that the time they served since they were detained on Dec. 12 would be taken into account.
The defense can appeal the decision to the regional court and then the Supreme Court.
Reuters editor in chief Stephen J Adler said, “Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the press everywhere.”
Adler added, “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.”
Press freedom advocates, the UN, the EU and countries, including the United States, Canada and Australia, had called for the Reuters journalists’ acquittal.
“We know what we did. We know we did nothing wrong. I have no fear. I believe in justice, democracy and freedom,” Wa Lone said.