YANGON, Myanmar – The High Court of Yangon rejected on Friday an appeal by two Reuters journalists, who were sentenced to seven years in jail on charges of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act.
The judge rejected the appeal saying that the defense team could not present sufficient evidence to prove the innocence of the two.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were convicted by a lower court in September for illegally obtaining state secrets related to the Rohingya crisis in the Rakhine state.
The two reporters were working on a Reuters investigation into 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 Rohingyas, a much-persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar, following a series of attacks by Rohingya rebels on government posts in the region.
The offensive, which has been condemned worldwide for its human rights abuses, has been described as ethnic cleansing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and led to the exodus of 700,000 Rohingyas to neighboring Bangladesh, where they have been living in overcrowded camps.
According to Doctors Without Borders, at least 6,700 Rohingyas were killed during the offensive in Rakhine.
The defense can now appeal to the country’s supreme court, based in the capital Naypyitaw.