Nicola Smith in Taipei
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Suu Kyi stands by decision to jail journalists for seven yearsIndependent.ieAung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, yesterday strongly defended a court decision to jail two Reuters reporters who were arrested while investigating alleged war crimes against Rohingya Muslims.https://www.independent.ie/world-news/asia-pacific/suu-kyi-stands-by-decision-to-jail-journalists-for-seven-years-37315354.htmlhttps://www.independent.ie/world-news/article37315353.ece/e842b/AUTOCROP/h342/2018-09-14_wor_44081238_I1.JPG
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, yesterday strongly defended a court decision to jail two Reuters reporters who were arrested while investigating alleged war crimes against Rohingya Muslims.
In her first public comments on a case viewed as a new low for press freedom in Myanmar, the Nobel Peace laureate denied the seven-year sentence imposed on Wa Lone (32) and Kyaw Soe Oo (28) had anything to do with freedom of expression.
“They were not jailed because they were journalists, they were jailed because…the court has decided that they have broken the Official Secrets Act,” she said.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in December while reporting on the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men in the village of Inn Din, Rakhine state, last September.
Seven Myanmarese soldiers have since been sentenced to 10 years of hard labour for their role in the crime.
The subsequent jailing of the reporters has been widely condemned by international leaders. Reuters has maintained the two men were framed on “false charges” intended to “silence their reporting and intimidate the press”.
But Ms Suu Kyi argued that the court’s judgment was based on the rule of law.
“They have every right to appeal the judgment and to point out why the judgment was wrong,” she said.
“The case has been held in open court, if anybody feels there has been a miscarriage of justice I would like them to point it out.”
Mike Pence, the US vice-president, also called for their release, tweeting that they should “be commended – not imprisoned – for their work exposing human rights violations & mass killings”.
Human Rights Watch said that Ms Suu Kyi failed to understand the real meaning of the rule of law.
More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled western Rakhine state after government troops led a brutal crackdown last autumn.
An independent UN investigation has since called for the country’s most senior military generals to be prosecuted for genocide and war crimes.