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Myanmar Judge to Issue Verdict Next Week for Reuters Journalists


Police escort detained Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone as they arrive before a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, Aug. 20, 2018.

A judge in Myanmar will deliver a verdict in one week in the trial of two Reuters journalists accused of breaking the country's secrecy laws by reporting on the Rohingya Muslim refugee crisis.

The two are charged with illegal possession of official state documents. Both defendants say they were framed by police.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested last December after meeting with two police officers and given a stack of documents. They have been charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, which was enacted in 1923 when Myanmar was called Burma and was under British colonial rule.

The pair were covering the brutal military campaign in Rakhine state that has driven nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh since last August. The military and the civilian government have prohibited most journalists and international observers from traveling independently to the area.

The two Reuters journalists face sentences of 14 years in prison if they are convicted. The case is seen as a test of press freedom and freedom of expression in Myanmar, which embraced democracy in 2016 after decades under repressive military rule.

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