Monday’s planned announcement of a verdict in the trial of two Reuters journalists detained in Myanmar for violating the country’s secrecy laws has been postponed until next week.
A replacement judge announced at the start of the hearing that presiding judge Ye Win could not attend because of illness. He said the verdict will be handed down in exactly one week, on September 3.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested last December after meeting with two police officers at a restaurant in Yangon and given a stack of documents. They have been charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, which was enacted in 1923, when Myanmar was called Burma and was under British colonial rule.
Wa Lone told reporters after Monday’s hearing that he and Kyaw Soe Oo were not afraid of the decision because “the truth is on our side…we didn’t do anything wrong.”
The pair were covering the brutal military campaign in Rakhine state that has driven nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh since last August. They were focused on the massacre of 10 Rohingya by police and soldiers in the village of Inn Din.
The military and the civilian government have prohibited most journalists and international observers from traveling independently to the area. They have denied the accusations made by the United Nations and United States of ethnic cleansing, but have sentenced seven soldiers in connection with the murders in Inn Din.
The two Reuters journalists face sentences of 14 years in prison if they are convicted. The case is seen as a test of press freedom and freedom of expression in Myanmar, which embraced democracy in 2016 after decades under repressive military rule.