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Myanmar top court rejects final appeal of Reuters reporters

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 23, 2019 - Duration: 01:46s

Myanmar top court rejects final appeal of Reuters reporters

Myanmar's top court has rejected the final appeal of two Reuters reporters sentenced to seven years in jail for violating the Official Secrets Act, in a landmark case that has raised questions about the country's transition to democracy.

Ed Giles reports.

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Myanmar top court rejects final appeal of Reuters reporters

Myanmar's top court has rejected the final appeal of two Reuters journalists sentenced to seven years jail last year.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Ooo were imprisoned for breaking the country's colonial-era Official Secrets Act, in a landmark case that's raised questions about the country's transition to democracy.

The Supreme Court Justice told a court on Tuesday (April 23) quote "this decision stands, and the appeal is rejected" without elaborating on the decision.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo's wives were at the court.

(SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) CHIT SU WIN, WIFE OF KYAW SOE OO, SAYING: "I am feeling so sad that the court rejected our appeal.

It did not meet our expectation." (SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) PAN EI MON, WIFE OF WA LONE, SAYING: "We were optimistic about the verdict.

We had expected to see something better." The two reporters have now spent more than 16 months in detention.

They were arrested in December 2017, while working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys.

Lawyers for the reporters had apealed to the Supreme Court citing lack of proof of a crime and evidence that the pair were set up by police.

A policeman told a lower court last year that officers had planted secret documents on the two reporters.

Their imprisonment has sparked an outcry from from press freedom activists, Western diplomats and world leaders.

It's added to pressure on Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who took power in 2016.

Reuters' chief counsel Gail Gove said in a statement after the appeal was rejected: "Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did.

Instead, they were victims of a police set-up to silence their truthful reporting.

We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible." A Myanmar government spokesman did not answer calls from Reuters seeking comment.

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