BREAKING: Reuters Reporters Arrested in Yangon Under Official Secrets Act

By The Irrawaddy 13 December 2017

YANGON — Two reporters from Reuters were detained under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly possessing internal security reports related to fighting between border guard forces and Muslim militants the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in August.

Local reporters U Thet Oo Maung, also known as Wa Lone, and Kyaw Soe Oo, also known as Moe Aung, were arrested by police from Htauk Kyant station in Mingalardon Township in northern Yangon on Tuesday at 11:30 pm, according to the police report.

The report says a copy of an Aug. 27 security report by Border Guard Police Unit (8) in Maungdaw in northern Rakhine State was found with Wa Lone, 31. The report describes the number of security forces and their remaining ammunition after the fighting.

ARSA launched attacks on 30 security posts in Maungdaw on Aug. 25. The attacks were followed by army clearance operations and international accusations that government troops had arbitrarily killed and raped civilians and burned their homes. The Myanmar government denounced ARSA as a terrorist organization following the attacks.

The police also allegedly found a detailed security report about ARSA’s attack on the Myin Hlut police outpost on Aug. 25, a map of the outpost, and another report on the number of Rohingya houses burned with reporter Moe Aung.

The Htauk Kyant Police Station has filed a lawsuit against the two reporters under Article 3 of the 1923 Official Secrets Act for “news gathering with an intention to damage the safety and interest of the State.” If found guilty, the reporters could be imprisoned for up to 14 years.

Pan Ei Mon, the wife of Wa Lone, told The Irrawaddy that she was not informed of her husband’s arrest by the police but learned about it from his Reuters colleagues.

“Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been missing since Tuesday night. We have filed a missing person’s report and are doing everything we can to locate them,” a Reuters spokesperson told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

Two foreign journalists working for TRT World are currently serving prison terms for convictions under the Aviation Act for trying to fly a drone near Parliament in Naypyitaw.

In June, the Myanmar Army arrested three journalists from The Irrawaddy and DVB in northern Shan State under the Unlawful Association Act but released them after more than two months in custody.