Reuters says Myanmar held journalists for probing Rohingya massacre
Reuters says Myanmar held journalists for probing Rohingya massacre
It is the first time Reuters has publicly confirmed what Myanmar nationals Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were working on when they were arrested on December 12 on the outskirts of Yangon.
The pair are now facing up to 14 years in prison on charges of possessing classified documents in violation of the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
Their plight has sparked global alarm over withering press freedoms in Myanmar and government efforts to curb reporting in northern Rakhine state — a crisis-hit region where troops are accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled the area since last August, carrying stories of atrocities at the hands of troops and vigilante groups in the Buddhist-majority country.
Myanmar authorities deny the allegations but have virtually cut off northern Rakhine, barring independent media from accessing the conflict-hit areas.
On Thursday Reuters published a report describing how Myanmar troops and Buddhist villagers executed 10 Rohingya men in Rakhine’s Inn Dinn village on September 2, 2017 before dumping their bodies into a mass grave.
“The Reuters investigation of the Inn Din massacre was what prompted Myanmar police authorities to arrest two of the news agency’s reporters,” the report said.
The account was based on testimony from Buddhist villagers, security officers and relatives of the slain men.
It included graphic photographs of the victims, hands bound kneeling on the floor before the killing — and of their bodies in a pit after.
A month after the journalists’ arrests, Myanmar’s army issued a rare statement admitting that security forces took part in extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya “terrorists” in Inn Din village.
The Reuters report said witnesses denied there had been any major attack from Rohingya militants before the alleged massacre.
A Myanmar government spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.
But Myanmar vehemently denies systematic abuses by its security officers, despite a mounting volume of evidence pointing to atrocities.
Judges have denied bail to the two reporters during a pre-trial hearing period, despite calls for their release from human rights groups and diplomats around the globe.
The next hearing is scheduled for February 14.
Facebook now says data breach affected 29 million users, details impact
- Facebook said it was continuing to investigate whether the attackers took actions beyond stealing data
- Lawmakers and investors have grown more concerned that Facebook is not doing enough to safeguard data
Cyber attackers stole data from 29 million Facebook accounts using an automated program that moved from one friend to the next, Facebook Inc. announced on Friday, as the social media company said its largest-ever data theft hit fewer than the 50 million profiles it initially reported.
The company said it would message affected users over the coming days to tell them what type of information had been accessed in the attack.
The breach has left users more vulnerable to targeted phishing attacks and could deepen unease about posting to a service whose privacy, moderation and security practices have been called into question by a series of scandals, cybersecurity experts and financial analysts said.
The attackers took profile details such as birth dates, employers, education history, religious preference, types of devices used, pages followed and recent searches and location check-ins from 14 million users.
For the other 15 million users, the breach was restricted to name and contact details. In addition, attackers could see the posts and lists of friends and groups of about 400,000 users.
Lawmakers and investors have grown more concerned that Facebook is not doing enough to safeguard data.
The company’s shares rose 0.25 percent on Friday as Wall Street rebounded after a six-day losing streak. The Nasdaq composite index gained 2.29 percent.
Facebook cut the number of affected users from its original estimate after investigators reviewed activity on accounts that may have been affected. Still, cybersecurity experts warned that attackers could use stolen information in targeted phishing scams.
“The bottom line is that all this data is still out there,” said Corey Milligan, a senior researcher with cyber-security firm Armor Inc.
Facebook Vice President Guy Rosen told reporters that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has asked the company to limit descriptions of the attackers due to an ongoing inquiry.
Rosen revealed that while the attackers’ intent has not been determined, they did not appear to be motivated by the upcoming US mid-term Congressional election on Nov. 6.
He said the attack affected a “broad” spectrum of users, but declined to break down the number affected by country.
Facebook said it was continuing to investigate whether the attackers took actions beyond stealing data, such as posting from accounts, but had not found additional misuse.
Hackers did not steal personal messages or financial data and did not use their access to accounts to access users’ accounts on other websites, Facebook said.
A focus on trust
Rosen said the company would “do everything we can to earn users’ trust.”
The company previously warned that profits would suffer because of breach-related expenses.
The vulnerability the hackers exploited existed from July 2017 through late last month, when Facebook noticed an unusual increase in the use of its “view as” feature.
That feature allows users to check privacy settings by glimpsing what their profile looks like to others. But three errors in Facebook’s software enabled someone accessing “view as” to post and browse from the Facebook account of the other user.
The attackers used the “view as” flaw with “a small handful” of accounts they controlled to capture data of their Facebook friends, then used a tool they developed to breach friends of friends and beyond, Rosen said.
Facebook patched the issue last month and asked 90 million users to log back into their accounts, many just as a precaution.
Security experts have said Facebook’s initial breach disclosure arrived earlier than it likely would have prior to the enactment in May of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which mandates notification within 72 hours of learning of a compromise.
Facebook’s lead EU data regulator, the Irish data protection commissioner, last week opened an investigation into the breach. Authorities in other jurisdictions including the US states of Connecticut and New York are also looking into the attack.
Regulators around the world have ongoing inquiries into another matter that came to light in March: How profile details from 87 million Facebook users were improperly accessed by political data firm Cambridge Analytica.
Japan’s Personal Information Protection Commission (JPPC) has launched an investigation into the social media company, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Friday.
“We are working with local regulators including JPPC about data breach,” the company said in an emailed statement. Facebook has about 28 million people active in a month in Japan.