YANGON (Reuters) – Two Reuters journalists detained in Myanmar will be allowed to meet their families once their first 14-day period of remand expires, according to local media reports.
Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been in detention for 11 days in an undisclosed location and have had no access to their families, lawyers or colleagues.
They were arrested after being invited to meet police officials over dinner on the outskirts of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon on Dec. 12. The authorities are investigating whether they violated the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which has a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
“After the first remand (expires), they will be able to meet their families. They will be sent to the court for testimonies,” Tin Myint, permanent secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs, was quoted as saying by Radio Free Asia.
In Myanmar, those remanded must be brought to court within 14 days. But it’s not immediately clear when the pair was first remanded and whether the authorities will seek court approval to remand them for a second 14-day period.
The Home Affairs Ministry did not responded to several requests for comments.
Family members of the two journalists say they have not received any official communication about the question of remand or the investigation, and neither has Reuters.
Tin Myint said the case against the two Reuters reporters will be “transparent” and the authorities will follow the rule of law, according to Daily Eleven newspaper.
Major governments, including the United States, Britain and Canada, leading international political figures and top United Nations officials are among those who have demanded the release of the Reuters reporters.
The two journalists had worked on Reuters coverage of a crisis in the western state of Rakhine, where an estimated 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from a fierce military crackdown on militants.
A spokesman for Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week told Reuters that the police had almost completed their investigation and the two reporters will be treated in line with the law.
The Ministry of Information said last week that Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, had “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media”.
(Reporting By Yimou Lee and Shoon Naing; Edited by Martin Howell)