5 journalists jailed 10 years for Myanmar stories - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

5 journalists jailed 10 years for Myanmar stories

Posted: Updated:
  • NationalMore>>

  • Survey finds sharp increase in teen use of HGH

    Survey finds sharp increase in teen use of HGH

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:51 AM EDT2014-07-23 04:51:01 GMT
    Experimentation with human growth hormones by America's teens more than doubled in the past year, as more young people looked to drugs to boost their athletic performance and improve their looks, according to a...More
    Experimentation with human growth hormones by America's teens more than doubled in the past year, as more young people looked to drugs to boost their athletic performance and improve their looks, according to a new,...More
  • CEO: Clippers coach to quit if Sterling stays

    CEO: Clippers coach to quit if Sterling stays

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:03 AM EDT2014-07-23 04:03:50 GMT
    Richard Parsons, the interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers, is due to step into the battle of billionaires going on in probate court over the proposed sale of the Los Angeles Clippers.More
    The interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers testified Tuesday that coach Doc Rivers told him he will quit if Donald Sterling remains the owner of the team.More
  • Perdue defeats Kingston in Georgia Senate runoff

    Perdue defeats Kingston in Georgia Senate runoff

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:46 PM EDT2014-07-23 03:46:40 GMT
    After a bruising nine-week runoff campaign, Georgia Republicans will finally have their Senate nominee who will compete against Democrat Michelle Nunn for a seat the GOP can ill afford to lose as the party looks to...More
    Businessman David Perdue has defeated longtime Rep. Jack Kingston in the Republican runoff for Georgia's U.S. Senate nomination, setting up a matchup against Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn that will help determine...More

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Four reporters and the chief executive of the magazine they work for were sentenced Thursday to 10 years of hard prison labor for violating Myanmar's national security by writing and publishing stories about a weapons factory.

The court sentenced the five men for violating the 1923 Burma State Secrets Act pertaining to trespassing in a prohibited area with prejudicial purpose. The law was enacted when Myanmar was a British colony called Burma.

The weekly Yangon-based Unity journal published stories in late January alleging the military had seized more than 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) of farmland in Myanmar's central Magwe Region to construct a weapons factory. It reported allegations that the factory would produce chemical weapons, also printing a denial by authorities of the latter allegation.

The authorities defended the arrests as a matter of national security. The magazine has since gone out of business.

Myanmar has made sweeping reforms, including freeing the press, after emerging from a half century of brutal military rule in 2011. But media watchdogs say reporters still face intimidation and arrests, especially in rural areas, and that the situation appears to be worsening, even as official censorship has been lifted.

The human rights group Amnesty International described the court's action as "a very dark day for freedom of expression in Myanmar."

"These five media workers have done nothing but cover a story that is in the public interest," Rupert Abbott, Amnesty's deputy director for the Asia-Pacific region, said in a statement.

After the arrests, Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut acknowledged that the factory belonged to the Defense Ministry, but told The Irrawaddy, a Thailand-based online news site, that claims it had anything to do with chemical weapons were "totally baseless."

"The journal only quotes local people," Ye Htut said, defending the arrests of journalists following allegations that the government was starting to trample on newfound press freedoms. "It is a national security issue, and even a country like the U.S. would respond the same way on these matters."

Kyaw Lin, the lawyer for Unity chief executive Tin San, complained bitterly Thursday about the verdict being "totally unfair," and suggested that it was not appropriate to use a law that he said was intended to apply to spies.

"These people are not spies in this case. They were just reporting," he said, adding that the law says nothing about trespassing on army land, and that any infraction might have been more justly punished by a fine and two or three days in jail.

Amnesty's Abbott said the sentences "expose the government's promises to improve the human rights situation in the country as hollow ones. They reflect a wider crackdown on free media since the beginning of the year, despite government assurances that such practices would end."

He described the convicted men as political prisoners and called for their immediate release.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • InternationalMore>>

  • US: Russia 'created the conditions' for shoot-down

    US: Russia 'created the conditions' for shoot-down

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:33 AM EDT2014-07-23 04:33:53 GMT
    The Obama administration said Tuesday it would present data from the U.S. intelligence community laying out what's known about the Malaysia Airlines plane that was shot down in Ukraine.More
    Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for "creating the conditions" that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian...More
  • UN chief believes Gaza fighting will end soon

    UN chief believes Gaza fighting will end soon

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:03 PM EDT2014-07-23 00:03:27 GMT
    The Palestinian U.N. envoy says a draft U.N. resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip will be formally circulated to the Security Council.More
    The U.N. secretary-general said Tuesday it is his "hope and belief" that his emergency mission to the Middle East will lead to an end to the fighting between Hamas and Israel "in the very near future."More
  • Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

    Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:42 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:42:54 GMT
    Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state...More
    A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel's main airport, prompting a ban on flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot...More
Powered by WorldNow

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service