YANGON, Myanmar – Two Reuters journalists appeared on Wednesday at a court in Yangon for the first hearing of their trial on charges of violating state secrets.
Myanmar reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were driven in a police van to the Mingaladon township court, north of Yangon, where some 60 journalists were waiting for them.
Kyaw Soe Oo’s sister Nyo Nyo Aye and Wa Lone’s wife Panei Mon were also at the courthouse, and about a dozen police officers, an epa journalist reported.
After the hearing, the pair was led through the throng of journalists, photographers and police. Kyaw Soe Oo shouted “Please tell other journalists to (be careful)” and Wa Lone yelled over the commotion “Keep doing journalism work!”
The wife and sister of the Reuters journalists then rode in the police van with the suspects to the Criminal Investigation Department office in Yangon.
Their next court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 10 and they are due to remain in custody until that time.
The reporters, who work for Reuters’ Yangon bureau, were detained by police on Dec. 12 and charged under the Official Secrets Act, which carries prison terms of up to 14 years.
The pair had been reporting on the violence in Myanmar’s conflict-torn western state of Rakhine, from where more than 650,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority have fled to Bangladesh after Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts on Aug. 25.
In September, the UN criticized the military operation which spurred the Rohingyas’ exodus as ethnic cleansing.