Myanmar court refuses to drop case against Reuters journalists

Detained Reuters journalist Wa Lone is escorted by police after a court hearing in Yangon on April 4. A Myanmar court is pushing ahead with hearings that have sparked global outrage and fears of shrinking press freedoms. (Reuters)
Updated 11 April 2018
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Myanmar court refuses to drop case against Reuters journalists

YANGON: A Myanmar court on Wednesday rejected a motion to drop a case against two Reuters journalists arrested months ago while reporting on the Rohingya crisis, pushing ahead with hearings that have sparked global outrage and fears of shrinking press freedoms.
“The court decided that the proposal from the defendants’ lawyer to release the defendants ... has been rejected,” judge Ye Lwin told a courtroom in the commercial capital Yangon packed with supporters, family and media.
Reuters reporters Wa Lone, 32 and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27 were arrested in December and accused of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act for possessing material relating to security operations in conflict-hit Rakhine state.
Myanmar has faced global condemnation and accusations of extrajudicial killings, ethnic cleansing and genocide as some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine to Bangladesh following a military crackdown on insurgents.
The government rejects the allegations and says it was defending itself against attacks from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which occurred on August 25.
The Reuters pair had been investigating a massacre of 10 Rohingya men on September 2 in the Rakhine village of Inn Din that was carried out by security forces and local villagers.
Seven Myanmar soldiers have been sentenced to jail with hard labor for their part in the killings, according to a Facebook post by the army chief late Tuesday.
The case against the journalists has proceeded despite international calls for their release. Last month Reuters announced that prominent rights attorney Amal Clooney had joined the legal team.


Suspect in killing of Mexican journalist arrested

Updated 24 April 2018
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Suspect in killing of Mexican journalist arrested

MEXICO CITY: Mexican authorities arrested a suspect in the killing of internationally recognized journalist Javier Valdez on Monday night, Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida said.
Navarrete said via Twitter late in the evening that federal agents in a joint operation had just arrested the “presumed (person) responsible for the killing,” but provided no details.
Valdez was gunned down in a street in Culiacan in the western state of Sinaloa on May 15, 2017.
He was known outside Mexico for his deeply nuanced books about the intersection of drug cartels, politicians and other segments of society. Inside Mexico, he was respected as a veteran journalist who generously shared his knowledge and kept readers informed with a regular column in Riodoce, a publication he helped found.
His killing led to a resounding outcry, but the killings of Mexican journalists have continued. At least 10 journalists, including Valdez, were killed in 2017.
Isamel Bojorquez, Riodoce’s editor and a friend of Valdez, confirmed the news. He said the suspect was arrested in the border city of Tijuana and was a member of an organized crime group. He declined to say which one, but said it had to do with the war that the Sinaloa cartel is in.


Riodoce later reported that Ricardo Sanchez Perez del Pozo, the federal special prosecutor in charge of investigating crimes against journalists, said in an interview that the suspect was a 26-year-old known by the alias “Koala.”
The news site reported that the motive of the killing was related to information Valdez had published weeks before his slaying. Sanchez told the site that the suspect was driving the car that intercepted Valdez. There were allegedly three attackers in the car.
The Sinaloa cartel has been battling within itself and with the Jalisco New Generation cartel for territory in western Mexico, especially since the 2016 capture of Sinaloa’s former leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and his subsequent extradition to the US last year.
The vacuum left by Guzman was contested by his sons and Damaso Lopez, Guzman’s right-hand man. Weeks before his murder, Valdez had interviewed Lopez, the outlet’s first interview of a cartel capo.
“Chapo’s sons found out that we had interviewed Damaso and they pressured Javier (Valdez) to not publish the story,” Bojorquez wrote in a column after his friend’s slaying. “But we refused the request.”
The national security commissioner scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning.