Myanmar: imprisoned Reuters journalists launch appeal

Myanmar: imprisoned Reuters journalists launch appeal

November 5, 2018 Off By admin

Guilty verdict in June was widely condemned; appeal says trial ‘ignored compelling evidence of police set-up’

Reuters journalists s Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo (R) were sentenced to seven years in prison by Myanmar court.




Reuters journalists s Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo (R) were sentenced to seven years in prison by Myanmar court.
Photograph: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

Lawyers in Myanmar have filed an appeal on behalf of jailed Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were imprisoned for reporting on the military’s violence against the Rohingya, on the basis that the court’s ruling was “wrong”.

In June, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced to seven years for breaching the country’s official secrets act after they were accused of being in possession of secret documents.

In the appeal filed on Monday, lawyers acting for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo stated that “in condemning them as spies, it ignored compelling evidence of a police set-up, serious due process violations, and the prosecution’s failure to prove any of the key elements of the crime,” according to a statement by Stephen J Adler, president and editor-in-chief of Reuters.

“Contrary to Myanmar law, it shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.”

The drawn out trial of the journalists was widely regarded as a farce, where swathes of evidence that the pair were set up by the police was ignored or dismissed. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo always stood by their innocence and the real reason for their arrest and imprisonment is widely thought to be their in-depth reporting on the human rights abuses and ethnic cleansing carried out against the Rohingya muslim minority by the military in Rahkine state.

The guilty verdict in June drew condemnation from the UN and governments across the world and was seen as a big step back for democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar. Many had hoped that Aung San Suu Kyi, who during her 15 years under hour arrest had been a vocal advocate of free speech, might pardon the pair. Instead she has defended their imprisonment.

Adler added: “Now is the time for Myanmar to uphold its stated dedication to rule of law, freedom of the press, and democracy by ordering the release of our colleagues, whether on appeal or by granting the families’ request for a pardon.”