Reuters Reporters Jailed in Myanmar Over Alleged Secret Documents

An aerial view of burnt villages near Maungdaw in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state

An aerial view of burnt villages near Maungdaw in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state

After news of the arrest was released, the United States embassy said it was "deeply concerned by the highly irregular arrests of two Reuters reporters".

The military filed charges against the two reporters under Section 3.1 of the Official Secrets Act, according to a tweet from the digital editor of Frontier magazine, Sean Gleeson.

Two reporters for the Reuters news agency have been arrested in Myanmar on suspicion of possessing "secret police documents" pertaining to the refugee crisis in Rakhine state, the government said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Information said Wednesday the journalists and policemen will be charged under the country's colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries penalties of up to 14 years in prison.

Reuters global communications chief Abbe Serphos said: "We are urgently seeking more information about the circumstances of their arrest and their current situation".

After their disappearance Tuesday evening, the journalists' colleagues in Rangoon have since filed a missing persons report, visited three police station and inquired with several government officials about what may have happened to the two reporters.

"For a democracy to succeed, journalists need to be able to do their jobs freely", the embassy said in a statement.

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The US embassy in Myanmar said it was "deeply concerned" about the arrests and urged the government to allow access to the pair. We are outraged by this blatant attack on press freedom. Kyaw Soe Oo began working for Reuters in September.

"Yes it is correct that they were arrested", spokesman Zaw Htay said.

The United Nations and the worldwide community have been accusing Myanmar of human rights violations allegedly committed by the country's security forces against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine, causing more than 620,000 of them to flee to neighboring Bangladesh in recent months.

The military and the civilian government have prohibited most journalists and worldwide observers from traveling independently to the area.

Other journalists in Burma have been arrested in recent months.

Since the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi came to power in 2016 after decades of military rule, rights groups have expressed alarm about worsening freedom of expression.

Reported by Kyaw Soe Lin and Thinn Thiri for RFA's Myanmar Service.

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