wo Reuters journalists who have been detained in Myanmar for the past two weeks were remanded in custody for a further two weeks on Wednesday as an investigation continues into allegations they breached the nation’s official secrets act.
Judge Ohn Myint granted the 14-day extension in the case of the journalists, Wa Lone (31) and Kyaw Soe Oo (27) at the request of the police, who then took them to Yangon’s Insein prison. They were previously being held in a police compound.
When they appeared at the Mingaladon court for the proceedings, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were allowed to meet their families and their lawyer for the first time since their arrest.
The two journalists had worked on Reuters coverage of a crisis in the western state of Rakhine, where – according to United Nations’ estimates – about 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from a fierce military crackdown.
They were detained on December 12th after they had been invited to meet police officials over dinner. The Ministry of Information has said they “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media” and faced charges under the British colonial-era official secrets act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
‘Simply doing their jobs’
The two journalists said they had not been mistreated in custody.
“The situation is okay,” Wa Lone said after the hearing.
“We will face it the best we can because we have never done anything wrong,” he said. “We have never violated the media law nor ethics. We will continue to do our best.”
A Reuters spokesperson said they should be freed.
“These two journalists are being held for simply doing their jobs and have done nothing wrong. It is time for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo to be released,” the spokesperson said.About 100 journalists, lawyers and farmers held a protest in the town of Pyay, 290km north of Yangon, to demand the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, one of the participants said.– Reuters