Myanmar charges Reuters reporters with illegally obtaining state secrets

Myanmar charges Reuters reporters with illegally obtaining state secrets
FILE - In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018, file photo, a boy walks over a bridge in Chakmarkul refugee camp in Bangladesh. More than 10 months have passed since Myanmar's security forces launched a sweeping campaign of rape and other brutalities against the Rohingya. Now, the babies conceived during those assaults have been born. For many of their mothers, those births have been tinged with fear. Not only are the infants reminders of the horrors they survived, but their community often views rape as shameful, and bearing a baby conceived by Buddhists as sacrilege. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

Yangon: A Myanmar court on Monday charged two Reuters reporters with breaching a colonial-era law and illegally obtaining state secrets, according to the news agency.

The court approved the plea of the prosecutors to press charges against journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who pleaded not guilty, reports Efe news.

Speaking outside the court in Yangon to members of the media, Wa Lone said: “We just (do) investigative reporting about violation of human rights and corruption in Rakhine state, according to our journalism ethic. We will continue this and face the court. We write from the all different angles. If the police perpetrated injustice, we have to investigated and write.”

Dozens of people were outside the court including foreign embassy representatives and the wives of the two journalists.

The court had dismissed the reporters’ pleas and the pair could be sentenced to up to 14 years in jail under the Official Secrets Act.

The decision comes after a witness testified during a preliminary hearing that the two journalists were trapped by security forces, who promised the journalists access to confidential documents about a controversial army offensive in the Rakhine state.

The two reporters were working on an investigative article on the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in Rakhine.

The killings were part of a military operation Myanmar launched last year against the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar, following a series of attacks by Rohingya rebels on government posts in the region.

The offensive has led to the exodus of 700,000 Rohingya to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they have been living in overcrowded camps.

According to Doctors Without Borders, at least 6,700 Rohingyas were killed during the offensive.