Myanmar journalists jailed 10 years for reporting on weapons factory

The journalists were arrested in late January.

Five journalists in Myanmar on Thursday were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment each for disclosing state secrets and for publishing a report on an alleged secret chemical weapons factory in central Magwe.

The defendants’ lawyer, Aung Thein, said that four reporters and the chief executive of Unity Journal, a local weekly, were sentenced by a district court in Pakokku, central Magwe Division.

“My clients are innocent; they received long jail terms simply for doing their work. The ruling means the government can do anything it wants to journalists,” Mr. Aung said.

The journalists were arrested in late January after running an article on the secret chemical weapons factory, which, they claimed, was built by a former senior general, Chinese technicians and the current commander in chief.

The report alleged that the facility spanned 3,000 acres, housed rockets and was heavily guarded by uniformed troops.

Reports say police across the country were directed to seize copies of the January 25 edition.

In May, the New Light of Myanmar reported that journalists Lu Naing, Sithu Soe, Aung Thura, The Yazar Oo and executive Tint San faced charges of “disclosing state secrets” as well as trespassing under Article 3(a) of the Official Secrets Act (1923).

Meanwhile in late June, Sala Baganza, a small town in northern Italy with a population of 5,500, awarded the five honorary citizenship.

(dpa/NAN)

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