Two Reuters journalists accused of violating the Myanmar's colonial-era Official Secrets Act will face trial after a court rejected a request to dismiss the case against them.
Judge Ye Lwin said Wednesday there was “a proper reason” for the accusations against Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, and “they should not be released.”
A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar expressed disappointment that the two journalists remain in detention. "They have been jailed for doing their jobs as journalists," it said.
Amnesty International called it an "appalling but wholly unsurprising decision" that "is entirely in keeping with Myanmar’s continued regression on freedom of expression and human rights in general."
The Reuters reporters were arrested on December 12 after they were handed a stack of documents by two policemen at a restaurant in Yangon. The pair were covering the brutal military campaign in Rakhine state that has driven nearly hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh since last August.
The two journalists face 14 years in prison if they are convicted under the Official Secrets Act , which dates back to 1923 when Myanmar ruled by Britain.
“The case against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo is clearly politically-motivated and completely baseless," Amnesty International said. "They are languishing behind bars simply because of their peaceful journalism and investigating the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people by Myanmar’s own security forces in Rakhine State."