A court in Myanmar has sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison for violating a state secrets act while investigating violence against the Rohingya minority.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, nationals of Myanmar, were arrested while carrying official documents which had just been given to them by police officers.
They have maintained their innocence, saying they were set up by police.
The case has been widely seen as a test of press freedom in Myanmar.
“I have no fear,” Wa Lone said after the verdict. “I have not done anything wrong. I believe in justice, democracy and freedom.”
The two men, who both have families with young children, have been in prison since their arrest in December 2017.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, are Myanmar citizens who were working for the international news agency.
They had been collecting evidence about the murders of 10 Rohingya men by the army in the village of Inn Din in northern Rakhine in September 2017.
They were arrested before the report’s publication, after being handed some documents by two policemen who they met at the restaurant for the first time.
A police witness testified during the trial that the restaurant meeting was a set-up to entrap the journalists.
The final report – a collabortion with other colleagues – was considered extraordinary, because it gathered testimonies from a range of participants, including Buddhist villagers who confessed to killing Rohingya Muslims and torching their homes. Accounts from paramilitary police also directly implicated the military.
The military had previously released its own investigation into allegations of abuse in Rakhine, and exonerated itself of all wrongdoing.
Authorities later launched their own probe into the Inn Din killings, confirming the massacre took place and promising to take action against those who had taken part.