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Myanmar police focused interrogation on Rohingya story - Reuters journalist

In hours of testimony, delivered over two days before a court in Yangon, Wa Lone also described what he called the police “trap” to arrest him.

Detained Myanmar journalist Wa Lone (C) speaks to reporters as he is escorted by police from a courthouse following his ongoing pre-trial hearing in Yangon on 9 July, 2018. Picture: AFP.

YANGON - A Reuters reporter on trial in Myanmar said the police questioning after he and a colleague were arrested in December centred on their reporting of a massacre of Rohingya Muslims, not on secret state documents they are accused of obtaining.

Wa Lone, 32, also said the police deprived him and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, of sleep for more than two days, and placed black hoods over their heads while transporting them to a secret detention site where they were held incommunicado for two weeks.

In hours of testimony, delivered over two days before a court in Yangon, Wa Lone also described what he called the police “trap” to arrest him. His account was the most comprehensive challenge heard so far to the prosecution’s accusation that the two journalists were detained at a routine traffic stop and found to be holding secret documents from an unknown source.

“During the whole interrogation, they didn’t ask with interest about the secret documents found on us, but they probed our reporting of Maungdaw, Rakhine,” Wa Lone told the court. “I hadn’t slept for many hours but they kept interrogating me. I was exhausted.”

At the time of their arrest, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in the village of Inn Din in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

The killings took place during a military crackdown that United Nations agencies say led to more than 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh last year.

The Reuters journalists are on trial for allegedly breaching the colonial-era Official Secrets Act which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The case has attracted global attention, with many governments calling for the reporters’ release in what has come to be seen as a test of press freedom in Myanmar.