Naypyidaw: The Myanmar High Court on Friday rejected the appeal of two Reuters journalists challenging the seven-year prison sentence handed to them under the country’s Official Secrets Act in September for allegedly possessing illegal documents related to the situation of Rohingya minorities in the South Asian nation.
According to Al Jazeera, the appeal had called for the reporters’ immediate release stating that the original trial was conducted in an “unjust manner.”
The two accused, namely Wa Lone, aged 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, aged 28, were arrested and announced prison sentence by a district court while reporting on Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
The Washington Post quoted High Court Judge Aung Naing, who was overseeing the probe into the matter, termed the conviction of the two journalists to be a “suitable ruling.”
“The judgment is very disappointing, not just for the journalists, but for the rule of law here,” Than Zaw Aung, the lawyer for the two journalists, was quoted as saying.
However, neither of the convicts attended the court proceedings on Friday.
Meanwhile, Editor in Chief of Reuters news agency Stephen J. Adler said that the latest judgment in the case was an ‘injustice’ to the two journalists.
“They remain behind bars for one reason: those in power sought to silence the truth,” Adler said.
“Reporting is not a crime, and until Myanmar rights, this terrible wrong, the press in Myanmar is not free, and Myanmar’s commitment to rule of law and democracy remains in doubt,” he added.
Friday’s ruling came as devastation to the two journalist and their families, despite surmounting pressure by the other countries against suppressing of press freedom.
Both reporters were named as TIME’s Person of the Year 2018 earlier this month, amongst other titles which have been bestowed on the duo.
They were covering the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in December last year when they were detained. There have been repeated calls by the international community for their release, with many drawing attention towards press freedom in Myanmar.