Reporter Walone says he wishes State Counsellor knew their case was just about news


Detained Reuters journalist Wa Lone (C), escorted by the police as he leaves the court on their trial in Yangon, Myanmar, 18 June 2018. Photo: Mizzima

One of two reporters facing trial after being charged with the Official Secrets Act, Walone, said while leaving the courtroom, that he wished the State Counsellor knew they were charged and facing trial for just covering news on Rakhine State affairs.

The two Reuters reporters Walone and Kyaw Soe Oo were produced before Yangon north district court on June 18 for their 27th hearing.

“They asked many questions to us in interrogation for two weeks during detention. They said spoke about Rakhine State affairs during interrogation. I wish the government especially State Counsellor know about these things. I’d like to say from here we were arrested and are facing trial for covering news on Rakhine State affairs. I deny what she (Aung San Suu Kyi) said. I felt extremely sorry for what she said as a reporter,” Walone said.

Regarding this case, the State Counsellor said in an interview given to Tokyo based NHK News that the two Reuters reporters were arrested for leaking state secrets on Rakhine State and violated the Official Secrets Act, not for covering news.

Walone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on December 12, 2017 after investigative reporting on the killing of 10 male civilians in Inndin village, Maungdaw District, Rakhine State by security forces in August 2017.

Their lawyer said at the trial that the reporters were taken to Aungthabyay interrogation centre after their arrest and were interrogated for three days round the clock with sleep deprivation but police officers who were witnesses for the prosecution denied this and claimed they were not taken to Aungthabyay interrogation centre.

Defence attorney Than Zaw Aung said, “According to the statement of prosecution witness Pol. Maj. Myint Lwin, my clients were detained at Htaukkyant police station for a certain period but at today’s hearing, they could not establish who gave secret information regarding the 8th Police Battalion to these two reporters. And the evidence they claimed extracted from the phones seized from the two reporters were not counterchecked with persons from concerned governmental departments.”

All the prosecution witnesses from this case have now been examined.

Yangon North District Court fixed the next hearing for July 2 and the lawyers from both parties will give their arguments on whether charges against the two accused should be made or not.

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