Trump admin. condemns Myanmar for jailing Reuters journalists

The government is expecting growth to remain steady at 6.8pc in 2017-18 backed by favourable weather conditions. Phoe Wa  The Myanmar Times

The government is expecting growth to remain steady at 6.8pc in 2017-18 backed by favourable weather conditions. Phoe Wa The Myanmar Times

Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer representing the two journalists, said the charges being sought came under Section 3.1 (c) of the British colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

The Reuters journalists, Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were detained on 12 December. They were reportedly invited to meet with police officers in a restaurant.

"As they near their hearing date, it remains entirely clear that they are innocent of any wrongdoing", Mr Adler said in a statement yesterday.

Over 656,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Bangladesh since Aug 25, when Myanmar's forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in Rakhine state, according to the UN.

Myanmar's Ministry of Information said the reporters "illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media".

"The judge will be decide whether they are guilty or not according to the law", he told Reuters. James Gomez, Amnesty's Southeast Asia director, called for the pair to be "immediately and unconditionally released". Our colleagues should be allowed to return to their jobs reporting on events in Myanmar.

"We will face the charges filed against us", he added. "It has become so casual to attack and undermine the work journalists are trying to do". "This is fundamental for any open society", he said on Twitter on Thursday. The six were initially charged under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act but were released without charge in July, having spent nearly two months in jail.

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- "Imprisonment of Reuters reporters for investigating Rohingya atrocities is a miscarriage of justice".

- France expressed its concern after the court hearing on Wednesday.

The French foreign ministry called in a statement for the journalists' immediate release and for the free access of media to Rakhine State.

- The spokesman for the United Nations secretary-general said on Wednesday the United Nations team in Myanmar was following the case very closely. Amnesty International [press release] said this is part of a growing climate in Myanmar where journalism is stifled and members of the press find themselves in increasingly hostile environments.

Observers from the United Nations and from several embassies, including the Netherlands, Australia and Britain were at the court.

"The EU considers this case an important test for Myanmar's commitment to press freedom, an independent judiciary and the development of democratic institutions".

Japan wants to raise the matter of the two reporters with the Myanmar government at appropriate opportunities, including a visit by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono this week, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in Tokyo.

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In a report released in November, Fortify Rights and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum found "mounting evidence" of the crime of genocide by state security forces against Rohingya in Rakhine State and documented information about mass graves.

"I never made any mistake; I never did anything wrong", Wa Lone said before leaving the court.

Slurs that they are traitors have matched expressions of support for the Reuters journalists on Facebook.

The authorities said that the two policemen who gave the reporters the documents were also arrested under the Official Secrets Act at the same time.

"The secretary-general has repeated and will continue to repeat his concern at the erosion of press freedom in Myanmar and calling on the global community to do everything to secure the journalists' release and freedom of the press", said United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The NewsGuild of NY, which counts around 3,000 members in the state and is part of the 25,000-strong nationwide NewsGuild ― which represents many Reuters employees in the United States ― launched a campaign Thursday, called "Journalism Is Not a Crime", in support of the two men and calling for their release.

The Myanmar government's official position on the crisis is that Rohingya are illegal Bengali immigrants.

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