Any remaining shred of hope for the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo quickly vanished today when the court denied their appeal for an overturn of their conviction handed down in September last year. They were charged with violating the Official Secrets Act following entrapment by police who handed them documents that formed the basis of the charges laid against them.
The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is deeply saddened by and aghast at today’s turnout of events. To say that the two reporters’ consequent conviction and seven-year sentence was a dark day for press freedom would be an understatement. The denial of their appeal is an appalling reaffirmation of Myanmar’s rejection of genuine democracy and sends an unmistakable signal that press freedom is in great peril in a country, once a pariah state, that had held out hope that it was making great strides toward democratic reform.
SEAPA appeals to the Myanmar government to reverse the conviction of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. It’s time to deliver on its promised reform, an essential component of which is upholding and protecting press freedom and freedom of expression.
Media should not be punished – jailed or killed – for reporting the truth. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo do not deserve to languish in prison for doing their job.