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Judge rejects motion to dismiss case of two Reuters reporters on trial in Myanmar over Rohingya 'massacre' reporting

A Myanmar judge has rejected a motion to dismiss the case made against two Reuters journalists who are accused of breaking the Official Secrets Act.

Reporters Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, stand accused of possessing secret government papers relating to the Myanmar government’s crackdowns in Rakhine State.

The two obtained the papers, which their defence lawyer said contained only publicly available information, while investigating Myanmar army involvement in a massacre of ten Rohingya men in Inn Din village, Rakhine State.

Lone and Soe Oo were arrested on 12 December last year and have been in custody ever since.

A court in Yangon has been holding preliminary hearings since January to decide if the men should be charged.

They face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison if convicted.

The defence filed a motion to have the case thrown out two weeks ago.

Judge Ye Lwin said yesterday there was a “proper reason” for the accusations against the two reporters and therefore “they should not be released”.

He added that he wanted to hear from eight remaining prosecution witnesses before the case could be dismissed.

Speaking outside court after the decision was passed down, Lone said: “I definitely believe that we’ll be completely released one day.”

Reuters has repeatedly called for the release of its two journalists and said it hopes the trial will prove their innocence.

In a statement, Reuters president and editor-in-chief Stephen J Adler said: “We are deeply disappointed with the court’s decision.”

He added: “We believe that there are solid grounds for the court to dismiss this matter and to release our journalists.

“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were reporting on issues in Myanmar in an independent and impartial way.

“They have not violated any laws in the course of their newsgathering and were simply doing their jobs. We will continue to do all we can to secure their release.”

Following the Reuters report seven Myanmar soldiers were found guilty of participating in the Rohingya massacre on 10 April and sentenced to ten years in prison with hard labour.

Picture: Reuters/Ann Wang

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