A junta court has sentenced three detained Shan State media staff and a family member to three years in prison for allegedly spreading misinformation.
Kanbawza Tai News’s female editor Nann Nann Tai, also known as Nann Nway Nway Hlaing, her brother Ko Sai Sithu, female reporter Nan Win Yi and male publisher Ko Tin Aung Kyaw were detained in the Shan State capital, Taunggyi, on March 24.
They have since been held in Nyaungshwe Prison in the state.
Kanbawza Tai said a temporary prison court handed down the maximum sentences against the four under Article 505(a) of the Penal Code on Friday, which was Human Rights Day.
The article criminalizes spreading false news that could cause fear or criminal offenses against government employees.
Ko Zay Tai, editor-in-chief of Kanbawza Tai, told The Irrawaddy that Ko Sai Sithu was detained as a hostage when junta forces could not find him. Ko Sai Sithu was accused of being a news reporter.
“The junta has been unjustly arresting and sentencing civilians. In another unjust case, jailing journalists on Human Rights Day with the highest penalty clearly show the junta’s media repression,” he added.
Ko Zay Tai faces an arrest warrant under Article 505(a).
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported that six other journalists are being held in the state and many more are in hiding since their news offices were raided.
Myanmar is second only to China for imprisoning media staff, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on December 9.
Since the February 1 coup, there has been a significant media crackdown with at least 26 media staff incarcerated across the country, according to the report.
Ma Hmu Yadanar Khet Moh Moh Tun, a video journalist with the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency, and photojournalist Ko Kaung Sett Lin covering a flash mob protest in Yangon were severely injured and then detained after regime forces deliberately rammed protesters with a pickup truck this month.
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