Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, Chit Su Win, burst into tears after the verdict, and family members had to support her as she left the court.
Wa Lone, in handcuffs and flanked by police, told a cluster of friends and reporters after the verdict not to worry.
“We know we did nothing wrong. I have no fear. I believe in justice, democracy and freedom,” he said.
Kyaw Soe Oo also said the reporters had committed no crime and that they would maintain their fight for press freedom.
“What I want to say to the government is: you can put us in jail, but do not close the eyes and ears of the people,” he said.
Some of the reporters’ supporters shouted “let them speak” and jostled with police as they were driven back to prison.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo both have young daughters and have not seen their families outside of prison visits and court hearings for nearly nine months.
Kyaw Soe Oo has a three-year-old daughter and Wa Lone’s wife, Pan Ei Mon, gave birth to their first child last month.
Government spokesman Zaw Htay didn’t respond to requests for comment about the verdict. He has mostly declined to comment throughout the proceedings, saying the courts were independent and the case would be conducted according to the law.
U.S. ambassador Scot Marciel said the “deeply troubling” verdict could undermine the confidence the Myanmar people had in the justice system.
U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar Knut Ostby said he was “disappointed”.
“Unbelievable! More and more, responsible journalism is found to be a crime in Myanmar!” Yanghee Lee, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said on Twitter.
British ambassador Dan Chugg, speaking on behalf of EU members, said the verdict had “dealt a hammer blow for the rule of law”.
In Bangladesh, Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, a media adviser to the prime minister, condemned the verdict saying it was “an open secret” that anyone exposing “atrocities of the Myanmar army” would be persecuted.
Reuters tried to reach the military’s spokesman by telephone, but an assistant said the spokesman was busy and unable to speak.
The reporters were arrested on Dec. 12 while investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya men and boys and other abuses involving soldiers and police in Inn Din, a village in Rakhine State.
Myanmar has denied allegations of atrocities made by refugees against its security forces, saying it conducted a legitimate counterinsurgency operation against Muslim militants.
But the military acknowledged the killing of the 10 Rohingya at Inn Din after arresting the Reuters reporters.
A U.N mandated fact-finding mission said last week that Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent” and called for top generals to be prosecuted. Myanmar rejected the findings.
The International Criminal Court is considering whether it has jurisdiction over events in Rakhine, while the United States, the European Union and Canada have sanctioned Myanmar military and police officers over the crackdown.Published: 2018-09-03 17:44:19