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>> The high court in Myanmar has rejected an appall by two Reuters reporters who have been sentenced to seven years in jail. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were found guilty in September of breaking the official Secrets Act. It's a landmark case that has raised questions about Myanmar progress towards democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats, human rights advocates and colleagues.
>> Today's ruling is yet another injustice among many inflicted upon Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. They remain behind bars for one reason, those in power sought to silence the truth.>> The wive's of the journalists watched as their husbands' appeal was was rejected.>> We believed they would be released and we still believe in their release.
>> On Friday, a high court judge called the seven-year prison term meted out by a lower court a suitable punishment.>> The high court did not consider the facts of our appeal the seven-year sentence was reconfirmed as the verdict of the district court, our appeal was rejected.>> The defense has the option of making a further appeal to the country's Supreme Court in the capital Naypyidaw.
In their appeal arguments made in December, the reporter's defense lawyers had cited evidence of a police setup and lack of proof of a crime. They told the appeal court that the labor court that had tried the case had wrongly placed the burden of proof on the defendants. And that prosecutors had failed to prove the reporters gathered secret information, sent information to an enemy of Myanmar, or had any intention of harming national security.
The judge said the defendants did not follow journalistic ethics, and that the court couldn't determine whether the arrest of the reporters was a trap. A lawyer representing the government told the appeal hearing there was evidence the reporters had collected confidential documents and that they did intend to harm national security and the national interest.
Before their arrest, the reporters had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of ten Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and British civilians in Western Myanmar's Rakhine state. It took place during an army crackdown that started in August, 2017. The United Nations estimates the operation sent 730,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.