Myanmar police ordered set up of Reuters journalists: testimony

Detained Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo carries his daughter Moe Thin Wai Zin during a break at the court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar April 20, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 20 April 2018
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Myanmar police ordered set up of Reuters journalists: testimony

  • Myanmar has been accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya.
  • The military has denied allegations that the armed forces committed atrocities with the exception of the September massacre in Inn Din village.

Yangon: A Myanmar police chief ordered officers to set up a Reuters reporter by handing over sensitive documents to him in a sting operation that also ensnared his colleague, a police official told a court Friday.
Reporters Wa Lone, 32 and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28 were detained in December after meeting police for dinner in Yangon and accused of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act for possessing material relating to operations in conflict-hit Rakhine state.
They were arrested while investigating a September 2 massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine, but their report was published while they were behind bars.
Myanmar has been accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya after some 700,000 fled to Bangladesh following a brutal military crackdown on insurgents in August.
The military has denied allegations that the armed forces committed atrocities with the exception of the September massacre in Inn Din village for which seven soldiers were sentenced to 10-year prison terms.
For months now a Yangon court has been hearing testimony to decide whether the Reuters journalists will go to trial even as global criticism of the case has rained down on Myanmar and prominent rights attorney Amal Clooney joined the legal team.
Deputy police major Moe Yan Naing said in his appearance Friday that he had been questioned about meeting Wa Lone in November and that his superior then set up a sting in which he told others to pass on sensitive security documents.
“Police Brig. Tin Ko Ko asked Htauk Kyant (township) police members to arrest Wa Lone after Lance Corporal Naing Lin handed the documents to Wa Lone when they left,” he said, describing orders to “get” the reporter.
Kyaw Soe Oo accompanied Wa Lone to the restaurant meeting and was also arrested.
Yangon police officials could not be reached for comment.
Moe Yan Naing said he was angry that his name had been mentioned in the aftermath of the sting as someone who was under scrutiny.
He is facing charges of breaching police regulations and was brought to the hearing from detention.
The prosecution argued that he should be declared a hostile witness as his testimony differed from what he had told police investigators, but the Reuters defense team praised his remarks as genuine.
“He answered all this by taking risk for himself,” lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said.
A judge will hear arguments about the motion next week.
In brief comments to AFP as he arrived at the court in the morning, Moe Yan Naing said he was “going to tell the whole truth” in his appearance.
Myanmar lifted many restrictions on the press as it emerged from five decades of military rule in 2011 but critics have accused Aung San Suu Kyi’s new government of backsliding on previous reforms and failing to protect free expression.


Egyptian military court sentences journalist to 10 years

Updated 24 May 2018
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Egyptian military court sentences journalist to 10 years

CAIRO: An Egyptian military court has sentenced a freelance journalist who reported on the Sinai insurgency to 10 years in prison on terror-related charges.
The Cairo military court on Tuesday convicted Ismail Alexandrani of spreading false news and joining an outlawed group, without identifying it. The verdict can be appealed.
Alexandrani was detained in 2015 upon his return to Egypt after delivering a presentation on Sinai militancy in Berlin. He worked for several news outlets in Egypt.
Egypt has heavily restricted media access to the northern Sinai, where it has struggled to combat a Daesh-led insurgency that has carried out attacks across the country.
Egyptian authorities have jailed several journalists as part of a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent, and have passed vague laws criminalizing the dissemination of “false news.”