Reuters Journalists' 7-Year Jail Term For Violating Official Secrets Act Upheld by Myanmar Court
Rights group in Indonesia protesting against persecution of Rohingyas in Myanmar | (Photo Credits: Getty)

Yangon, January 11: A Myanmar appellate court on Friday turned down the plea filed by counsels of two Reuter journalists seeking the dismissal of treason charges levelled against them. The bench led by Judge Aung Naing upheld the 7-year-jail term awarded, stating that the prosecution has placed "enough evidence" to validate the sedition charge.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were arrested in December 2017 and later sentenced under the Official Secrets Act for possession of classified documents. The pair's defence argued that they were entrapped in a police sting after investigating the massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslim men during the army's brutal crackdown on the persecuted community. Rohingya Genocide Is Still Going On in Myanmar, Says Top UN Human Rights Investigator.

Outrage at the verdict echoed around the world after what was widely regarded as a sham trial, held as punishment for their work.

Domestically the reporters have garnered little sympathy, with many buying the nationalist line that they were simply traitors for reporting on the Rohingya crisis.

Outside the country the two men have been hailed as heroes and feted with awards presented in their absence. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were even jointly named Time Magazine's Person of the Year 2018, alongside other persecuted and slain journalists.

A violent military campaign in 2017 forced more than 720,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh with refugees bringing with them consistent accounts of murder, rape, torture and arson.

UN investigators have called for the prosecution of top generals for genocide and accused Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government of complicity.

Myanmar vehemently rejects nearly all allegations, legitimising the crackdown as a necessary defence against Rohingya militants.

(With PTI inputs)