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Myanmar jails two journalists for incitement and spreading false news, employers say

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By Reuters

– A court in military-ruled Myanmar on Wednesday jailed two journalists for incitement and spreading false news, their organisations said, part of an ongoing crackdown that a top U.S. official called an attack on freedom of expression.

A military court in southern Myeik sentenced Aung Kyaw of the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) and Zaw Zaw, a freelance reporter for Mizzima, to two years in prison over their reporting of anti-junta protests, Mizzima and DVB said.

Aung Kyaw is the third DVB journalist imprisoned since the military’s Feb. 1 overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, which caused nationwide outrage and daily protests, some of which were suppressed by troops using live ammunition.

Mizzima said Zaw Zaw was one of six of its staff arrested since the coup.

DVB and Mizzima are among several news outlets that have had licences revoked by the junta, which has restricted internet access and banned outside satellite broadcasts in an effort to stifle opposition to its rule.

A spokesman for the military council could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. The junta has said it respects the media but will not tolerate journalists who instigate unrest.

The military has in recent months arrested then deported a Japanese and a Polish journalist and is currently holding two American media workers.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Wednesday said the United States had pressed the military to release Americans Daniel Fenster and Nathan Maung and that she had raised their arrests with other countries in the region.

“The detention of Daniel and Nathan, as well as the use of violence by the Burmese military to other journalists, constitutes an unacceptable attack on the freedom of expression in Burma,” Sherman said in a call with media in Bangkok, referring to Myanmar by its former name.

The military, which ruled Myanmar from 1962 to 2011, has struggled to consolidate power since the coup and has met opposition in multiple forms, from peaceful street protests and western sanctions to deadly ambushes on troops by volunteer militias.