By Euan McKirdy and James Griffiths, CNN
Yangon, Myanmar (CNN)A Myanmar court has sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison for breaking the Official Secrets Act while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were originally detained in December 2017 after working on an investigation into the mass killing of a number of Rohingya villagers in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The violence was part of a conflict which the UN has described as a form of “ethnic cleansing,” with military operations forcing more than 700,000 Rohingya, a minority Muslim group, to flee Myanmar to Bangladesh.
The two journalists were charged with breaching the colonial-era act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, in July. The two men, both Myanmar nationals, pleaded not guilty.
The verdict was due last Monday, but the judge delayed it saying he was too ill to attend court that day.
Following the guilty verdict at the Yangon court Kyaw maintained the pair’s innocence, but added that they were unsurprised by the verdict. “We didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “We’re not exactly shocked by the verdict.”
The reporters were bustled from the court where a small crowd of supporters momentarily blocked policemen from pushing them into a vehicle to take them back to jail.