Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo will mark six months in prison on Tuesday as court hearings continue to determine whether they will be charged under Myanmar’s colonial-era Officials Secrets Act.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were arrested on Dec. 12, 2017 and face up to 14 years in prison if found guilty in what has become a landmark case for press freedom in Myanmar.
At the time of their arrests, they had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Seven soldiers were sentenced to 10 years in prison in April for their part in that killing.
“I feel that the truth of what we did will come out soon and the court will proceed fairly with justice to our case. I want to say that today is the day that we can put lots of hope for the truth and justice,” Wa Lone told reporters after the hearing last Tuesday on June .
The reporters have told relatives they were arrested almost immediately after being handed some rolled up papers at a restaurant in northern Yangon by two policemen they had not met before, having been invited to meet the officers for dinner.
More than 20 hearings have now been held in the case and there will be further hearings on Monday, June 11 and Tuesday, June 12.
Last month, Police Captain Moe Yan Naing testified that a senior officer had ordered his subordinates to plant secret documents on Wa Lone to “trap” the reporter.
But Police Director General Aung Win Oo has dismissed that testimony as untruthful. Moe Yan Naing has since been jailed for one year for violating police discipline and his family have been evicted from police housing, but police have said the eviction and sentencing were not related to his testimony.
Last week, a police scientific expert testified that photos of secret documents had been found on the mobile phones of the reporters. But defense lawyers said the information in those documents was not secret and had been in the public domain long before it arrived on their phones.