Myanmar journalist to seek asylum in Spain

Mratt Kyaw Thu will travel to Spain after failing to obtain asylum in Germany. PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (AFP) - Myanmar correspondent Mratt Kyaw Thu will arrive in Madrid on Tuesday (June 1) to ask for asylum after fleeing the military junta in Yangon, said the Spanish news agency EFE, which he worked for.

The 30-year-old correspondent, who will travel to Spain after failing to obtain asylum in Germany, won Agence France Presse's Kate Webb award in 2017 for his outstanding coverage of the ethnic and religious conflicts in Myanmar.

"Tomorrow he will fly from Frankfurt to Madrid to ask for asylum in Spain," EFE South-east Asia director Ramon Abarca told AFP.

"He has spent four weeks in a detention centre," Mr Abarca told AFP by phone from Bangkok.

A spokesman for Spain's interior ministry said Mr Mratt's arrival had not been officially registered but would be treated according to international law.

Reporters Without Borders spokeswoman in Germany Katja Gloger said the interior ministry there had been asked to handle the asylum request after stressing the journalist's life was in danger.

Mr Mratt, who has worked for EFE since 2018, criticised the military junta which overthrew civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

The junta issued an arrest warrant for the reporter, EFE said, forcing him to seek safety abroad.

Myanmar has been in uproar since the putsch, with near-daily protests and a nationwide civil disobedience movement.

More than 800 people have been killed by the military, according to a local monitoring group.

The press has been caught in the crackdown as the junta tries to tighten control over the flow of information.

American journalist Danny Fenster was arrested by Myanmar on May 24 as he tried to fly out of the country.

There has since been no news of his whereabouts or well-being.

Mr Fenster was managing editor of news outlet Frontier Myanmar, where Mr Mratt also published his work.

Several other foreign journalists were detained during March and April.

Myanmar ranked 140 out of 180 countries in the 2021 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.

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