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Myanmar Court to Rule Next Week on Fate of Detained Reuters Journalists

FILE - Journalists take part in a protest outside the court where Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo attend a hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, Jan. 10, 2018.

A Myanmar court will decide next week the fate of two Reuters journalists arrested and charged with violating the country's Official Secrets Act.

Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, appeared in court Tuesday, nearly six weeks after their arrest and two weeks after being charged.

The two face 14 years in prison for possessing classified material related to military operations in Rakhine State, which rights groups and the United Nations say amount to ethnic cleansing. Their families claimed the two were arrested immediately after meeting police sources for dinner, where they were handed the documents.

National League for Democracy spokesperson Win Htein says they were likely “caught in a trap.”

The journalists' defense lawyer told VOA Burmese a court hearing to decide their fate is scheduled for February 1.

Their request for bail was blocked Tuesday.

U Khin Maung Zaw and Wa Lone both told VOA Burmese of discrepancies between their accounts and the prosecution's accounts of the names of police officers accused of leaking secret documents to the journalists, as well as their time of arrest.

Wa Lone also told VOA the two police officers accused in court, Moe Yan Naing and Khin Maung Lin, were not the officers he and Kyaw Soe Oo met on the day of their arrest.