Pro-democracy protesters and a journalist run as riot police officers advance them during a rally against the military coup in Yangon
Pro-democracy protesters and a journalist run as riot police officers advance them during a rally against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Feb. 27, 2021.

Six journalists have been arrested in Myanmar over their coverage of the anti-coup demonstrations.   

A lawyer for Thein Zaw of the Associated Press says Thein and five other journalists have been charged under a law that prohibits anyone from causing fear, knowingly spreads false news or agitates directly or indirectly against a government employee. 

The six journalists are facing as much as three years in prison if convicted.  The junta amended the law just last month to increase the maximum prison sentence from to two to three years.

The Associated Press says Thein Zaw was detained Saturday in Yangon as he was covering the demonstrations in Myanmar’s largest city.  He is reportedly being held in the city’s notorious Insein prison, which has housed numerous political prisoners during the military’s previous autocratic rule.  

Four of the other five journalists work for Myanmar Now, Myanmar Photo Agency, 7Day News and the online news outlet Zee Kwet, while the fifth is a freelancer. 

Ian Phillips, the AP’s vice president for international news, has called for Thein Zaw’s immediate release.   

"Independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution," Phillips said.