Charges sought against Reuters journalists detained in Myanmar

Prosecutors in Myanmar have sought charges under its Official Secrets Act against two Reuters reporters, which could ...

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 12:19 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2018 12:19 PM

Prosecutors in Myanmar have sought charges under its Official Secrets Act against two Reuters reporters, which could see them jailed for up to 14 years, the news agency said.

Journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo appeared in court Wednesday, almost one month after their arrest on December 12 while working on stories about the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state, Reuters reported, citing the men's lawyers.

Journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in December

Reuters' chief has called their arrest a "blatant attack on press freedom"

The charges sought are under Section 3 (1)(c) of the act, which "covers entering prohibited places, taking images or handling secret official documents that 'might be or is intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy,'" the news agency said.

Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler said the agency was "extremely disappointed" at what he termed an "wholly unwarranted, blatant attack on press freedom."

"Our colleagues should be allowed to return to their jobs reporting on events in Myanmar. We believe time is of the essence and we continue to call for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo's prompt release," Adler said in a statement.

The reporters previously appeared in court in December, but no charges were sought. Following that appearance, they were permitted to meet relatives and a lawyer for the first time since their arrest, the news agency reported. The case has been adjourned until January 23.

Myanmar bans UN official as military finds mass grave in Rakhine

Govt: Reporters 'illegally acquired information'

In a statement to Reuters in December, the Myanmar government said the reporters had been detained after they "illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media."

An image of the two men in handcuffs with their faces partially obscured was published on the Ministry of Information's page.

According to the US Embassy in Myanmar at the time of their detention, the journalists were arrested "after they were invited to meet with police officials."

The two reporters were working in Rakhine State, the location of alleged ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, the state's minority Muslim population. The Myanmar government says the army has been conducting operations against militants who attacked border posts.

Since the start of the military operation in August last year, more than 650,000 Rohingya had fled across the border to neighboring Bangladesh.

The reporters' arrests came just ahead of the release of the results of a survey by medical aid organization M-decins Sans Fronti-res (MSF; also known as Doctors Without Borders) which showed that a minimum of 6,700 Rohingya -- including 730 children -- were killed by shooting and other violence between August 25 and September 24. The report also claims that at least 2,700 others died from disease and malnutrition.

The aid agency's death toll far surpasses estimates from Myanmar's government, which has put the figure in the hundreds.

Press associations, officials from the US, UK and Canada, and the UN Secretary General have appealed for the reporters' release.

On Tuesday, former US President Bill Clinton added his voice to calls for the men to be freed.

"A free press is critical to a free society - the detention of journalists anywhere is unacceptable. The Reuters journalists being held in Myanmar should be released immediately," Clinton said in a tweet.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 145636

Reported Deaths: 3745
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto963299
Hinds9584195
Harrison6848109
Jackson6124118
Rankin528598
Lee484295
Madison4633105
Forrest368186
Jones345287
Lauderdale3350143
Lafayette315049
Washington3097107
Lamar281849
Oktibbeha239261
Bolivar239083
Lowndes228863
Neshoba2164115
Panola211749
Marshall208350
Leflore200890
Pontotoc194728
Monroe190277
Sunflower189755
Lincoln186165
Warren172257
Tate164251
Union160925
Pike160458
Copiah158940
Yazoo151239
Scott150229
Itawamba147634
Coahoma147443
Pearl River144467
Simpson144253
Alcorn143925
Prentiss140429
Grenada136945
Adams136548
Leake131843
Holmes124961
George122224
Tippah121530
Covington117636
Winston116624
Wayne115823
Hancock114139
Marion111046
Attala107833
Tishomingo106142
Newton102729
Chickasaw102432
Tallahatchie95527
Clarke88553
Clay87027
Jasper81122
Walthall75028
Stone72414
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71613
Carroll70614
Lawrence70214
Yalobusha69427
Noxubee69217
Smith68816
Perry65225
Tunica59619
Greene58422
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis54217
Humphreys52618
Amite51214
Benton48417
Quitman4796
Webster42014
Kemper40917
Wilkinson38622
Jefferson33811
Franklin3235
Choctaw3077
Sharkey30617
Issaquena1114
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 236865

Reported Deaths: 3472
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31043491
Mobile19446360
Tuscaloosa12684150
Madison12528146
Montgomery12122235
Shelby992276
Baldwin837684
Lee759765
Morgan626247
Calhoun6049113
Etowah600564
Marshall596153
Houston510838
DeKalb469635
Cullman421136
Limestone408844
St. Clair403955
Elmore398961
Lauderdale387253
Walker356199
Talladega339044
Jackson302524
Colbert297641
Blount282236
Autauga266139
Franklin246233
Coffee236615
Dale228454
Dallas222331
Russell21923
Chilton218537
Covington215933
Escambia196931
Tallapoosa171790
Chambers171448
Pike156014
Clarke155319
Marion135535
Winston126623
Lawrence123936
Geneva11848
Pickens117618
Marengo117424
Barbour116710
Bibb115717
Butler114341
Randolph100321
Cherokee99624
Hale93231
Washington89918
Clay89623
Fayette86216
Henry8436
Lowndes78929
Monroe77911
Cleburne75614
Macon71720
Crenshaw70330
Bullock69019
Conecuh68214
Perry6726
Lamar6337
Wilcox62818
Sumter56222
Choctaw41813
Greene41317
Coosa3144
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 44°
Columbus
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 45°
Oxford
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 36°
Starkville
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather