Myanmar's top court has ruled against two Reuters journalists jailed for seven years for illegally possessing official documents. The pair had won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.
Myanmar's Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the final appeal by Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were sentenced to seven years in prison for breaching the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
The journalists' imprisonment has drawn condemnation from press freedom campaigners and raised questions about the country's transition from military rule to democracy.
The case against the pair:
'Victims of a police setup'
"They were sentenced for seven years and this decision stands, and the appeal is rejected," Supreme Court Justice Soe Naing told the court in the capital, Naypyitaw, without providing more details.
"Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did," Gail Gove, Reuters chief counsel, said in a statement after the ruling. "Instead, they were victims of a police setup to silence their truthful reporting. We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible."
Shortly after the decision was read out, Reuters Thailand bureau chief Matthew Tostevin tweeted, "Terrible news, but we will not lose hope."
Global outcry: The landmark case has been closely watched by international rights groups, who have denounced the conviction as an attack on freedom of the press. The top UN official in Myanmar, Knut Ostby, said he was disappointed by the decision.
"Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should be allowed to return to their families and continue their work as journalists," he said.
Highest journalism honor: The court's decision came after Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, and their colleagues were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for an investigation that uncovered the military's involvement in Rohingya killings.
nm,dj/sms (AFP, Reuters)