Myanmar journalist testifies he didn't know about documents

Reuters journalist Wa Lone, center, talks to journalists as they leave the court after their trial while their family members see off in the background Monday, July. 30, 2018, Yangon, Myanmar. The two reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are accused of illegally possessing official information. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

One of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar charged with possessing official information has testified that he knew nothing about documents that police allegedly found on his phone and had no idea where they came from

YANGON, Myanmar — One of two Reuters journalists charged with possessing official information testified Monday that he knew nothing about documents that police allegedly found on his phone and had no idea where they came from.

Kyaw Soe Oo and colleague Wa Lone have pleaded innocent to violating Myanmar's Official Secrets Act, under which they could get up to 14 years in prison if convicted. They were arrested in December and have been detained since then after being denied bail.

The two and their supporters say they were framed by police, apparently because of their reporting on the brutal crackdown by security forces on minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine state. About 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh after the crackdown began last August.

Their lawyer, Than Zaw Aung, told reporters after Monday's court session that documents presented as prosecution evidence were neither secret nor sensitive — one was the agenda of a trip by the vice president which had already been publicized and the other was about a development project.

He said Kyaw Soe Oo's phone was not in his possession during two weeks of interrogation.

Several additional witnesses are to testify in August, after which the lawyers will deliver their closing arguments and the judge is to give his verdict. The court so far has held about 30 sessions over seven months.

Kyaw Soe Oo said Monday that under cross-examination by the prosecutor he testified that he did not know where the documents on his phone came from, and he had conducted his work according to ethical standards for journalists.

He said he was not allowed to meet lawyers or family members during his two weeks of interrogation and was made to kneel for about four hours while being interrogated.

Wa Lone, who was cross-examined last week, said the interrogation process was abusive.

"We were not allowed to sleep. The weather was too cold at that time. We were handcuffed. There was no blanket or pillow or mosquito net. We were not allowed to sleep for three or four nights. I think we were not beaten up physically but our minds were being tortured," he said.

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