Court rejects bail plea for two journalists
Two Reuters journalists jailed for possessing classified security-related documents failed in their bid to secure bail on Thursday after a local court rejected their request.
A LOCAL court judge on Thursday rejected the request by two journalists of Reuters international news agency to post bail while facing trial for possession of classified documents.
Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, have been charged with violating the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act that could sentence them to up to 14 years in jail if found guilty of the crime.
The prosecution presented to the court during the previous hearing the alleged classified documents that were found on the duo when they were arrested, including the disposition of security forces in northern Rakhine State, where a military crackdown has forced more than 650,000 Muslims to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on December 12 in Yangon, shortly after meeting with their two police sources, who had allegedly handed them the documents.
The case is viewed by the international community as an attack on press freedom and the right of the public to information.
The next hearing in the trial is set for Tuesday
Several foreign observers attended Thursday’s hearing, including American, British, Swedish, French Danish and European Union diplomats
Reuters president and editor-inchief Stephen J. Adler expressed disappointment over the denial of bail for the two journalists but expressed confidence the trial will prove their innocence.
“It has now been more than 50 days since they were arrested, and they should have the opportunity to be with their families as the hearings continue,” he said in a statement issued after the hearing.
“We believe the court proceedings will demonstrate their innocence and Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo will be able to return to their jobs reporting on events in Myanmar,” he added.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were allegedly chasing a story about the atrocities allegedly perpetrated by government security forces in Rakhine when they were arrested.
On Thursday, the Associated Press said it obtained a video and talked with several witnesses that could prove the alleged existence of more mass graves in northern Rakhine.
The AP report claimed that the Us-based international news agency was able to confirm that there are at least five mass graves “all previously unreported.”
The alleged mass graves can be found in the village of Gu Dar Pyin, which has remained inaccessible to the media and international humanitarian organisations.
The Myanmar government has yet to issue a statement on the latest report by AP.
Reuters journalist Wa Lone (left) talks to a police officer.
Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo hugs his child.