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Aung San Suu Kyi defends verdict against Reuter’s journalists


Aung San Suu Kyi
Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi has defended the jailing of two Reuters journalists, despite international condemnation.
She said Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had broken the law and their conviction had “nothing to do with freedom of expression at all”.
The two were sentenced for possession of police documents while investigating the killing of Rohingya Muslims.
Ms Suu Kyi also said her government could in hindsight have handled the Rohingya situation differently.
Since last year, at least 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar, also known as Burma, after the army launched a brutal crackdown in response to attacks by a Rohingya militant group.
The UN has called for top military figures to be investigated for genocide.
What did Suu Kyi say?
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate – who is Myanmar’s de facto leader – had been under intense pressure to comment on both the Rohingya crisis and more recently the journalists, following their jailing last week.
This week, a UN rights body accused Myanmar of “waging a campaign against journalists” and the verdict has sparked criticism internationally, including from US Vice President Mike Pence.
Breaking her silence on Thursday at an international economics conference in Vietnam, Ms Suu Kyi said the case against the international news agency journalists upheld the rule of law.
She suggested that many critics had not actually read the verdict, saying: “They were not jailed because they were journalists, they were jailed because… the court has decided that they have broken the Official Secrets Act.”
The two, she added, had “every right to appeal the judgement and to point out why the judgement was wrong”.

What was the case against the reporters?

The Reuters pair were sentenced to seven years in prison on 3 September for violating the state secrets act while investigating a massacre of Rohingya men by the military at a village called Inn Din in Rakhine state.
The two Myanmar nationals had been arrested while carrying official documents which had just been given to them by police officers in a restaurant.
They said they were set up by police, a claim backed by a police witness in the trial.
The Burmese authorities later launched their own investigation into what happened at Inn Din, and jailed seven soldiers for their involvement in the killings of 10 Rohingya Muslim men there.
It was a rare admission of wrongdoing – the military has exonerated itself of blame for the violence and refused to allow journalists and external investigators to work freely in Rakhine. (BBC)

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