Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw has authorised police to proceed with a case against two detained Reuters reporters accused of violating the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, Reuters reports citing a spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi, head of the ruling National League for Democracy.
The spokesman Zaw Htay could be reached on Monday to clarify whether Htin Kyaw or Suu Kyi took the decision or if other officials had signed off on the president’s behalf.
Journalists Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were arrested last week on the outskirts of Yangon where they were invited to dine with police officers.
The arrests have been widely condemned by nations, the UN, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler and many journalists and human rights groups. They described the arrests as an attack on press freedom and demanded the immediate release of the journalists.
The two journalists were covering the plight of 655,000 Rohingya Muslims who had to flee Myanmar following a military crackdown on militants in Rakhine state.
The Ministry of Information says the journalists had “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media”. They released a photo of the pair in handcuffs and said the two were being investigated under the 1923 Official Secrets Act which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
The authorities have not allowed the detained journalists to contact a lawyer, families or Journalists. Their whereabouts are also unknown.