Jailed Myanmar Reuters reporters to file appeal

30 October 2018
Jailed Myanmar Reuters reporters to file appeal
A composite image shows Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo (R) outside the Insein township court in Yangon, Myanmar, 03 September 2018. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

Two Myanmar Reuters journalists will file an appeal this week against a seven-year prison sentence linked to reporting on the Rakhine crisis, their defence lawyer said Monday.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were sentenced early September under a hardline state secrets act while investigating the massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslims during the military's crackdown last year.

Condemnation echoed around the world after what was widely regarded as a sham trial and an effort to silence media scrutiny.

Defence lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told AFP that "everything is ready" for an appeal to be filed before the deadline on Saturday.

Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi refused to intervene during the trial even though her government had the power to drop the charges.

But Myanmar's president could now pardon the pair.

The appeal process should not affect the request for a presidential pardon, lawyer Khin Maung Zaw added.

However, the High Court is likely to take up to five or six months to rule on the appeal, leaving the reporters in jail.

"I'm quite confident," Khin Maung Zaw said.

"But in our country, nothing is certain. Anything can happen."

If the High Court upholds the verdict, the reporters will appeal to the country's Supreme Court in a process that would take at least another six months.

President Win Myint has issued pardons in the past and also intervened in the recent case of three reporters arrested over an article accusing the Yangon government of financial mismanagement.

But Win Myint has so far refrained from commenting on the Reuters case.