Family and friends had recently expected the reporters to be released as part of an amnesty
By Myanmar Now
Three journalists jailed by the junta after reporting on the fallout from its February 1 coup are now facing terrorism charges that could see them sentenced to several years in prison, lawyers have told Myanmar Now.
The journalists are Win Naing Oo, a senior Channel Mandalay reporter, D Myat Nyein, a reporter with the now defunct Zayar Times in Sagaing Region, and Pyae Phyo Aung, who worked for the same outlet.
All three were initially charged under Section 505-A of the Penal Code for incitement. A Mandalay-based lawyer familiar with Win Naing Oo’s case said more details of the new charge against him would be released at his next hearing on November 5.
“I learnt from the court that his Section 505 charge had been changed to one under the Anti-Terrorism Law,” he said.
Win Naing Oo was due to appear at a hearing relating to his 505-A charge on Tuesday but did not show up even though other co-defendants in the case did, the lawyer added.
“Only the others charged with him under the same case file were… indicted with Section 505 charges. Win Naing Oo didn’t appear at the court,” he said.
Family members and friends of the three journalists had expected them to be released as part of a recent junta amnesty after it was announced that people charged under 505-A were due to be set free.
Another lawyer said police and court sources had revelaed that the Zayar Times reporters would face terrorism charges, but no detailed information was available yet.
“Only one charge has been filed to the court so far,” the lawyer said. “The terrorism charge is still being filed at the police station, according to my sources.”
D Myat Nyein, 25, has been in detention at Obo Prison in Mandalay since July 26 and has been attending hearings at a court set up inside the prison. His lawyer could not be reached for further details about the case against him.
Pyae Phyo Aung, 30, was arrested on October 11 and is due to attend his first hearing under the 505-A charge at a court in Sagaing Township on October 29.
Myanmar Now was unable to contact the No.1 police station in the town of Sagaing, where Pyae Phyo Aung is being held.
The Zayar Times was forced to stop publishing in late July after the junta began targeting its journalists. Its chief editor Saw Yan Paing and two other reporters there have gone into hiding to avoid arrest. It is unclear if the three journalists in hiding will also face terrorism charges.
“As journalists we have to have connections with both sides so we can hear both sides of the story. It’s really sad that we have to face such major charges,” said one of the Zayar Times journalists who is in hiding and did not want to be named.
The junta has arrested roughly 100 journalists since its February coup and at least 53 of them were still in detention as of October 1, according to Reporters Without Borders. Around 20 journalists were released as part of the amnesty in mid-October.
Original Post: Myanmar Now