Reuters Journalists Detained In Myanmar Have Verdict Delayed Over Judge’s Health

Thein ZawAP Images

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Reuters journalists who were arrested in Myanmar in December 2017, will have to wait a while longer to learn their fate after their case was postponed due to the ailing health of the judge.

According to the BBC, the verdict will now only be given on September 3.

The two men, 32-years-old and 28-years-old respectively, were detained for carrying official documents that had been given to them by the police. They had been investigating the killing of a group of 10 men on a beach in Rakhine state, where the unknown Rohingya militant group had been active.

The military response was to launch attacks in the area, in the hopes that they would be able to drive the group out of the country. On September 2, the Rohingya men had been seeking refuge on a beach at Inn Din. Two are believed to have been hacked to death by villagers, while the military shot the other eight.

Lone and Soe Oo had been collecting evidence of the killings and were invited by the police to dinner on December 12, where they were handed documents that detailed the massacre. They were arrested immediately as they tried to leave the restaurant with the documents in hand.

Two Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo, center front, and Wa Lone, center back, are escorted by polices upon arrival at their trial Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in Yangon, Myanmar. The two reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are accused of illegally possessing official information. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)Featured image credit: Thein ZawAP

They were charged with “possessing important and secret government documents related to Rakhine state and security forces.” Police said the documents had been “illegally acquired with the intention to share it with foreign media.”

Media access in the region is strictly controlled, making it difficult to get reliable news from the area.

Lone has previously stated that all their reporting is above board, complying with all ethical standards and that they only “tried to tell the truth based on the real situation.”

Lawyers for the two men have argued that they were set up by the police to punish them for exposing the mass-murder to the world’s media.

“We are not wrong and the things alleged by the prosecution are baseless,” Lone said in a statement in court last week.

A police officer has also testified for the defense, stating that he had been ordered to “plant the documents on them.”

“Whatever they decide for us, we will not be afraid,” Lone said.

If found guilty, they could face up to 14 years in jail.

The government has defended the military operation against the Rohingya but looked into the killings at Inn Din. Their conclusions stated that “action would be taken against villagers who took part and security personnel who contravened rules of engagement.” They further stated that Lone and Soe Oo were only detained in relation to their possession of the documents.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi said the men “will be afforded the protection of the law.”