A Japanese journalist, arrested in Myanmar last month, has been charged with spreading fake news by the governing military junta amid a crackdown on media since the military seized power three months ago, the Japanese embassy in the country said.
Yuki Kitazumi has been detained since April and is the first foreign journalist known to be charged since the coup. If found guilty, Mr. Kitazumi could face up to three years in prison, according to Japanese media.
Mr. Kitazumi, who was working as a freelance journalist, had been reporting for many of Japan’s major news outlets, appearing as a rare foreign reporter from within Myanmar.
The 45-year old was arrested on April 18 when police raided his home in the country’s main city Yangon.
He was arrested previously in February while covering protests against the February 01 coup but was released soon afterwards.
The Japanese embassy in Myanmar said he showed no health problems but added they were urging the military to release him.
Aside from covering the coup and the subsequent protests and killings for Japanese newspapers and broadcasters, Mr. Kitazumi had also frequently posted about the situation and its impact on citizens on his social media accounts.
Mass protests have been taking place across Myanmar since the military deposed the elected government and declared a year-long state of emergency.
More than 700 people have been killed and thousands detained, including many local journalists, since the coup as authorities have cracked down on the protesters and also press freedom.
Around 80 local journalists are known to have been detained for their reporting so far. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group, 50 of them are still in detention and half of those have been prosecuted.
A few foreign journalists have also been arrested.
The armed forces have justified their takeover by alleging there had been widespread fraud during a general election late last year which had returned elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party (NLD) to power.
The military promised instead that it would hold “free and fair” elections once the state of emergency is over. (Source: BBC)