Reuters president and editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler has called for judges to dismiss the case which has left two of his reporters imprisoned in Myanmar for six months.
Reporters Wa Lone (pictured) and Kyaw Soe Oo were charged on 12 December last year with breaking Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act and face a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
The two journalists had been investigating the killing of ten Rohingya Muslim men in the village of Inn Din in Rakhine state and were arrested after being handed documents by police, which one witness claimed was a “trap”.
In a statement yesterday Adler said: “It has now been six months since Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested. They have been imprisoned for too long on false accusations.
“Their truthful and impartial reporting on an issue of incredible global importance has been recognized in Myanmar and all over the world.
“We look forward to the court’s ruling on whether to charge them in the coming weeks, as we remain hopeful that the court will fulfill Myanmar’s commitment to rule of law and dismiss this case.”
The Reuters special report that the two had been working on at the time of their arrest was accepted into evidence by Judge Ye Lwin last week.
However the latest court hearing, which was set to be held yesterday, was adjourned after police major Tin Win Maung, a key witness, failed to show up.
Following the adjournment Lone told reporters: “Six months is too long, but we are not depressed… They can’t destroy us. I will always be a journalist.”
Earlier this week it emerged that tactics including sleep deprivation and forced kneeling were used on the reporters during interrogations.
Reuters reported that Lone and Soe Oo “were ‘not allowed to sleep’ for three consecutive days during the initial police probe” and that Soe Oo was forced to kneel down for “more than three hours” during police questioning.
Adler said: “No one, including Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, should be subject to mistreatment of the kind they describe.
“It is for this reason, and many others, that we hope the court will bring this matter to an end as swiftly as possible, and restore the press’s confidence in its ability to work safely and responsibly in Myanmar.”
Picture: Reuters/Ann Wang