Three journalists arrested over disrespect to Yangon govt

Nayee Min Phyo Wai Win Kyaw Zaw Linn
NABBED IN MYANMAR: Journalists from the Eleven Media Group have been charged with Article 505(b) and cannot apply for bail. (From left) Kyaw Zaw Linn; Nayee Min; Phyo Wai Win

YANGON • Myanmar police arrested three journalists from the Eleven Media Group yesterday on charges related to showing disrespect towards the Yangon regional government.

Senior journalists Kyaw Zaw Linn, Nayee Min and Phyo Wai Win were detained at around 10am and sent to Insein prison.

"They are charged with Article 505(b) and cannot apply for bail," Mr Kyi Myint, a lawyer representing the three journalists, said by phone. "There is no freedom of the press," he said, adding that Myanmar had waited decades for democratic rule, but "look at the situation now".

He told reporters that the Yangon regional government had filed a complaint over an article by the paper's chief reporter Phyo Wai Win. The article, published on Monday, included quotes from regional lawmakers raising questions about public spending, including on an overhaul of transport in the country's commercial hub.

Daw Nilar Kyaw, a minister in the Yangon regional government, did not immediately return calls for comment.

Local media reports said the Yangon regional government had filed a lawsuit against the journalists for committing an offence against the state. This was for publishing "incorrect information" about the government and, if found guilty, the journalists could receive sentences of up to two years in prison.

The arrests follow the sentencing in August of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo to seven years in prison after they were found guilty of breaching the country's Official Secrets Act.

 
 

The two reporters were arrested on Dec 12 after police accused them of violating the 1923 law by acquiring "important secret papers" from two policemen.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was a political prisoner before taking power, has defended the jail terms handed down to the Reuters journalists and questioned whether international critics of the verdict had actually read the court's judgment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2018, with the headline 'Three journalists arrested over disrespect to Yangon govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe