YANGON: A Myanmar court on Friday formally indicted five journalists, including an AP photographer, for covering anti-insurgency protests, in which the military junta raided newsrooms and revoked media licenses.
The country is rocked by a February 1 uprising that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, sparking a popular uprising that has taken hundreds of thousands to the streets demanding the return of democracy.
Five journalists covering anti-insurgency protests in Yangon were arrested last month on charges of “intimidation, spreading false news or inciting a government employee directly or indirectly”.
The junta amended the law after the coup, increasing the maximum sentence from two years to three years. Friday’s hearing saw the five journalists, who were present via video conference, formally charged as a US embassy representative waited outside the courtroom.
One of the journalists was Thein Zhao, an Associated Press photographer. After the hearing, his brother told AFP he could go in to meet the defendants by video conference. “We had a chance to talk for two minutes,” said Mint Kyu, who was in tears.
“She is OK. She is OK and there is no need to worry about her. She is OK.” The other four are from Myanmar’s photo agency, 7 Day News, Zee Kuwait Online News, and a freelancer.
His hearing came over a weekend that saw raids on two local media offices in Myanmar Now and Mazema. Like Azad Media, DVDB, Khat Thet and 7Day News, their publishing licenses were revoked.
Editor Sui Mint on Friday told a panel at the Thai Foreign Representatives Club via video conference on Thursday that his staff was “well prepared” for such a crackdown on the press.
“Personally, I am prepared to face any (future) situation, including being arrested or killed,” Sui Mint told the panel. “This is what we have to do to become a free media in the country.”
The United Kingdom, meanwhile, advised its citizens to flee Myanmar on Friday, while the lawyer for ousted city leader Aung San Suu Kyi dismissed the allegations against her as “baseless”. Military officials are stepping up daily protests against the February 1 uprising, and at least 70 people have been killed, according to the country’s top UN expert.
The uproar prompted the former colonial ruler to urge Britain to evacuate its citizens if possible, warning that “as long as the level of military occupation and violence continues to rise, political tensions and unrest will spread.” Has happened “.
“The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advises British citizens to leave the country by trade, unless there is an urgent need to stay,” the Foreign Office said.
The military – which has defended its holdings by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party citing alleged voting irregularities in the November election – on Thursday issued an unusual statement accusing it of corruption. Held a news conference.
Janata Party spokesman Zhao Mantun said Yangon’s detained chief minister confessed to giving Suu Kyi 11kg (6 680,000) in cash, including gold.
On Friday, Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Qin Mongzhao, denied the allegations. “The allegations against state adviser Dow Aung San Suu Kyi are baseless, especially about the dollar and gold bars – it’s the most ridiculous joke of all,” he told AFP.
“I’ve never seen such an illegal mess.” Nobel Peace Prize laureate Sookie faces other criminal charges, including unwarranted ownership of a walkie-talkie and a campaign in 2020 to violate Corona virus restrictions.
Sochi has not been seen in public since his arrest on February 1 – he has a court hearing on Monday, but Khun Mongzhao has complained that she has not been able to meet him in private.
The junta has tried to stem the flow of news about crackdowns, reducing the country’s internet connection every night, revoking media licenses and raiding independent media offices.
Five journalists, including Associated Press photographer Thein Zhou, were charged Friday with covering a protest under a law against “intimidating, spreading false news or protesting directly or indirectly against a government employee.” Formally charged.
Thein Zhao’s brother told AFP he could go to court to see her via video conference. “We had a chance to talk for two minutes,” said Mint Kyu, his brother in tears.