Reuters journalists lose appeal in Myanmar

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar (AA): Myanmar’s Supreme Court rejected the appeal of two Reuters journalists Tuesday against their sentences for reporting on extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Shortly after the court session started, Supreme Court Justice Soe Naing read a statement confirming the court’s decision to uphold the convictions.

“The court upholds the previous convictions made by the lower courts,” Naing said.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were each sentenced to seven years in prison last September under a colonial-era law for allegedly breaching the Official Secrets Act for investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya men.

Defense Lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said he was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling. “However, we still have chance of appealing,” he told Anadolu Agency shortly after leaving the courtroom.

However, he said, his clients had already decided not to carry on with more judicial procedures if their appeal was rejected in this stage.

“When we met last time in Yangon’s Insein prison, they made it clear (not to carry on with one remaining appeal) if they lose again. They are losing faith on the judicial system,” he said.

“But we are not losing hope as there are still many chances for them such as presidential pardons and retrial by the parliaments,” he said.

The wives of two journalists flew this morning from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw, however, the kids were left home due to the hot weather.

“Our hope is simple. They would be released as they did nothing wrong. We had high hope in today’s court session as this seems the last chance for them,” Wa Lone’s wife Pan Ei Mon told Anadolu Agency.

“It seems we have to raise our kids alone for years,” she said after leaving the courtroom.

Chit Su Win, wife of Kyaw Soe Oo, told Anadolu Agency that she still doesn’t know why her husband was put in jail for exposing crimes.

“They should be praised, not being put in jail,” she said.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), shortly after the ruling on Tuesday, condemned Myanmar’s government and military, saying both parties seem equally determined to extinguish any ability to question their misrule and rights violations when it comes to media freedom.

“These two journalists are just the most prominent victims of this pernicious campaign against freedom of expression that is rapidly spreading in all parts of the country,” said HRW’s deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.

“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should never have been arrested, much less prosecuted, for doing their jobs as investigative journalists,” he said.