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Group Appeals for Release of Burmese Blogger on First Anniversary of Arrest


A media rights group has launched an appeal for the release of imprisoned Burmese dissident Nay Phone Latt on the one-year anniversary of the blogger's arrest.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders Thursday urged the international community not to forget about the 28-year-old online activist, who was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for possessing a banned videotape.

The group also included comedian and fellow blogger Zarganar in the appeal. Zarganar is serving a 59-year sentence in a remote border area for criticizing the government on the Internet.

Both sentences were handed down in November as part of a judicial crackdown on political dissidents. Rights groups say since October more than 200 dissidents have received prison terms of up to 100 years.

Reporters Without Borders specifically appealed to United Nations' special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to pay attention to the two bloggers' cases. Gambari is due to make a return visit to Burma for the first time in five months.

The United Nations says Gambari will visit soon, but has not confirmed media reports that he will arrive in Burma on Saturday.

Burma's opposition National League for Democracy says it is prepared to meet with Gambari to discuss the crackdown on dissidents. But party officials said they have low expectations for the U.N. envoy's efforts to push for democratic reforms and political reconciliation.

During Gambari's last visit in August, Burma's top leader, General Than Shwe, and detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi refused to meet with him.

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