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Myanmar's top court rejects appeal of jailed Reuters journalists

David Pierson, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

SINGAPORE -- Myanmar's Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the verdicts of two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists for Reuters who were jailed while reporting on the country's violent suppression of Rohingya Muslims.

Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, have been imprisoned since December 2017 and are serving seven-year terms for violating an obscure colonial-era state secrets law.

The two are accused of obtaining secret documents, though lawyers for the reporters appealed by arguing there was insufficient evidence. A policeman also testified in a lower court that the documents had been planted.

That wasn't enough to persuade Justice Soe Naing to overturn the convictions.

"The appeal is rejected," he said in a terse statement.

Reuters strongly disagreed with the decision and vowed to continue seeking the reporters' release.

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"Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did," Gail Gove, Reuters' chief counsel, said in a statement. "Instead, they were victims of a police set-up to silence their truthful reporting. We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible."

The decision by Myanmar's top court comes more than three months after the journalists' appeal was rejected by a lower court.

The case has brought widespread international condemnation of Myanmar's government and cast doubt on the country's commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

The journalists were part of a team at Reuters that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting last week for coverage of the brutal expulsion and slaughter of Rohingya from Myanmar.

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