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Myanmar journalist faces life sentence over interview

Journalist interviewed spokesman of rebel group Arakan Army

Kyaw Ye Lynn   | 31.03.2020
Myanmar journalist faces life sentence over interview

YANGON, Myanmar 

Myanmar's authorities have detained a journalist under a controversial counter-terrorism law over a news report about an ethnic rebel group in the country's volatile Rakhine state.

Police late on Monday detained and charged Nay Myo Lin, founder and editor of Voice of Myanmar, a local news outlet based in the second-largest city of Mandalay, for publishing an interview with a spokesperson of Arakan Army, a predominantly Buddhist armed ethnic group engaged in fierce fighting with the military.

He was remanded under sections of the law that prohibits organizations and individuals from contacting or associating with outlawed organizations.

Nay Myo Lin will face a minimum of three years in prison and a maximum life sentence if found guilty.

His wife, Zarni Mann, who is also a journalist with local online magazine the Irrawaddy, said her husband did not do any unethical in publishing the story.

“He just did what the journalists do; their job. I don’t see anything wrong with his reporting about the fighting in Rakhine state by contacting the Arakan Army rebel group,” she told Anadolu Agency by phone on Tuesday.

The police on Monday also filed a lawsuit against Khine Myat Kyaw, chief editor of Narinjara -- a local news outlet in Rakhine state, according to a local media report.

Kyaw was accused under a similar charge for interviewing a spokesman of the rebel group and publishing it in March this year, reported the Democratic Voice of Burma.

The move was widely seen as an attack on press freedom in the country where the media is far from free and still faces many challenges.

In January, Myanmar military filed a lawsuit against Reuters and a local lawmaker for criminal defamation in a story on the the death of two Rohingya Muslim women as a result of shelling by military in Rakhine state.

That case was withdrawn after intervention by the press council in Myanmar.

Anadolu Agency was unable to reach the council at for comment on the charges against Nay Myo.

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