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Myanmar charges Reuters reporters covering Rohingya

Myanmar charges Reuters reporters covering Rohingya
From Al Jazeera - January 10, 2018

A Myanmar court has charged two Reuters journalists, who were covering the crisis of Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine state, of allegedly violating a national secrecy law.

Myanmar reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oowere formally indicted by prosecutors in Yangon on Wednesday for breaching the colonial-era Official Secrets Act,which could sentence them to a maximum of 14 years in prison,their lawyer said.

The pair were taken into custody on December 12 after being invited to dine with police officers on the outskirts of Myanmar's largest city, Yangon, according to Reuters.

The news agency said that little is known of the accusations againstr, other than that the journalists were detained for allegedly possessing classified documents related to Rakhine state.

A brutal army crackdown in Rakhine state has forced almost 650,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

"We never made any mistakes, they are trying to stop us and intimidate us," said 31-year-old Wa Lone, as eight police officers ushered him out of the court, his tearful wife still clutching his hand.

"We will face the charges filed against us," he added.

A request for bail has been submitted to the court, which the judge will review at the next hearing on January 23, the lawyer said.

'Blatant attack on press freedom'

Myanmar's Ministry of Information say the reporters "illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media".

The families of the reporters - both of whom had been working on stories about the military's clearance operation in Rakhine state - say they were lured into a trap.

"We are extremely disappointed that the authorities seek to prosecute Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo under Myanmar's Official Secrets Act," said Stephen J Adler, president and editor in chief of Reuters. "We view this as a wholly unwarranted, blatant attack on press freedom."

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