Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Whistleblowing Myanmar policeman sentenced to jail

Whistleblowing Myanmar policeman sentenced to jail

Myanmar Deputy Police Major Moe Yan Naing (centre) leaves court following the ongoing trial of two detained journalists in Yangon on April 20. AFP
Myanmar Deputy Police Major Moe Yan Naing (centre) leaves court following the ongoing trial of two detained journalists in Yangon on April 20. AFP

Whistleblowing Myanmar policeman sentenced to jail

A Myanmar police officer who told a court his colleagues had tried to “entrap” two Reuters journalists has been handed a prison term, a police spokesman said on Monday.

Deputy Police Major Moe Yan Naing, called as a prosecution witness earlier this month in a pre-trial hearing against the journalists, stunned the courtroom when he alleged a senior officer had ordered colleagues to “get” reporter Wa Lone by handing him sensitive files.

The 32-year-old Myanmar journalist and his colleague Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, face up to 14 years in prison on charges of possessing classified documents relating to security operations in Rakhine state, where the military is accused of atrocities against Rohingya Muslims.

They have been detained since they were arrested in December after meeting with police, in a case that has drawn intense global attention.

According to a police spokesman, Moe Yan Naing has been jailed for breaching a police disciplinary act, a charge he had been facing since December for his previous communication with Wa Lone.

Police sources said he was sentenced before he gave his shock testimony – an extremely rare instance of a security official openly challenging superiors in the formerly junta-run country.

“He was sentenced because he told others about information concerned with the police force without permission,” Police Colonel Myo Thu Soe said, declining to say when the verdict was reached or how long his jail term was.

“He was found to have breached the police disciplinary act,” he added.

Moe Yan Naing’s wife said she was informed of her husband’s sentencing on Sunday night.

“The police told me yesterday [Sunday] evening that he had been sent to Insein prison to face a year-long sentence,” Tu Tu said through tears.

After he testified on April 20 the defence quickly expressed fears for his safety, while the prosecution filed a motion to declare him a “hostile witness”.

Within 24 hours Tu Tu and her children were evicted from their police housing in the capital Naypyidaw.

A police spokesman denied any connection between the two events, saying it was a “coincidence”.

The case against the Reuters reporters compounded fears about slipping press freedoms in Myanmar, a fledgling democracy riven with ethnic conflicts.

At the time of their arrests the reporters were investigating security officers’ roles in the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya men in northern Rakhine, the site of an army crackdown that the UN says amounts to ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority.

The military has overwhelmingly denied allegations of atrocities but did concede that security officers took part in the killings reported by Reuters – a rare admission of guilt made after the journalists were arrested.

Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since the army-led campaign was launched last August, ostensibly to combat Rohingya insurgents.

The stateless group has faced decades of systematic discrimination and persecution in mainly Buddhist Myanmar.

MOST VIEWED

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • MEPs' call for Rainsy's safety not European Parliament position

    The European Parliament said on Friday that a statement by 56 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) calling for guarantees of Sam Rainsy’s freedom and safety should he return to Cambodia did not represent its position. Delphine Colard, the European Parliament’s press officer told

  • Sar Kheng: Rainsy return not blocked

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng clarified that Cambodia had never blocked Sam Rainsy from returning to the Kingdom. However, he said Cambodia reserved the right to take legal action as allowed by law against activities aimed at destroying the Kingdom. “No one blocked the return