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Charged With Journalism: Reuters Reporters Face 14 Years' Prison in Myanmar

12 January 2018

In November, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanded the journalists' "immediate release or information as to the circumstances around their disappearance", while European Union representative to Myanmar Kristian Schmidt warned that their prosecution "amounts to a series intimidation against journalists" in Myanmar.

"I am trying to be strong in everything".

"According to the section, the two journalists can not get bail".

Distraught relatives of Kyaw Soe Oo wailed and reached out to grasp him as the two journalists were driven away from a throng of reporters after the hearing.

When the pair was escorted back to the prison van after the court hearing under a heavy police escort, Ko Kyaw Soe Oo's cousin said in tears that she never expected to see her baby brother in handcuffs.

Reuters president and Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler said in a statement that he was "extremely disappointed" by the ruling.

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"We are outraged by this blatant attack on press freedom".

Also on Monday, a dozen reporters based in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw submitted a request to the Myanmar's Home Affairs Ministry for more information about the case, arguing that it could have implications for the ability of journalists to do their jobs, Reuters reported.

A government spokesman was not available for comment on Clinton's Twitter post. They are now being held at Yangon's Insein prison, according Reuters.

Observers from the United Nations and from several embassies, including the Netherlands, Australia and Britain were at the court.

"The charges against us are wrong and unfair". "We call for their immediate release".

The media and NGOs have been barred from entering northern Rakhine where the Myanmar military stands accused of committing atrocities against the Rohingya during the crackdown which the United Nations and USA say amounts to ethnic cleansing. Authorities have largely banned media from the conflict zone.

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"We were arrested on a trumped up charge so as to prevent [journalists] from reporting true news", said Ko Wa Lone, one of two detained Reuters reporters, during his appearance at the Yangon North District Court on Wednesday.

"All 12 of the outpatient therapeutic treatment centers run by our partners are closed because they were either looted, destroyed or staff can't access them", she said.

Rights and media groups have criticized Myanmar's new civilian government led by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for continuing to use colonial-era laws to threaten and imprison journalists.

Myanmar journalists say despite the army's promise in 2011 to allow liberal reforms and press freedom as the country opened to the world, a pervasive network of undercover intelligence agents and their informants has not been dismantled under Suu Kyi's government.

Pressure from prominent individuals in the worldwide community and rights groups is mounting on the Myanmar government to release two Reuters journalists detained in December on charges of violating the country's colonial-era Official Secrets Act, with former U.S. President Bill Clinton now calling for their immediate release. The government has denied that their arrests represent an attack on press freedom.

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Charged With Journalism: Reuters Reporters Face 14 Years' Prison in Myanmar