Myanmar authorities free VOM editor-in-chief after no violations found


Voice of Myanmar (VOM) editor-in-chief Nay Myo Lin who was arrested last month on terrorism-related charges for publishing an interview with the Arakan Army, was released on Thursday evening from police custody.

Police arrested the Mandalay-based news agency chief at his home on March 31 for the earlier publication of reporter Khine Linn San’s interview with Khine Thukha, spokesman for the Arakan Army (AA).

The government declared the AA an unlawful association and terrorist group on March 23, four days before the article was published.

Nay Myo Lin faced up to life in prison had he been found guilty of charges filed by police under two sections of Myanmar’s Counter-Terrorism Law.

His second hearing was held earlier on Thursday at Chanmyathazi Township Court.

Nay Myo Lin later said the police informed him that prosecutors could not proceed with the case against him, so they had to free him.

“The prosecutors for the case decided that I had not violated Sections 50(a) and 52(a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law this evening, and CID [Central Intelligent Department] officers immediately came to my cell to tell me about my rights and released me,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

“But I had to sign a petition to obey any summons if there is any further investigation regarding the case,” he added.

The Counter-Terrorism Law prohibits organizations and individuals from associating with outlawed organizations. The two sections of the law Nay Myo Lin had been charged under carry jail terms of 10 years to life in prison and three to seven years in jail, respectively.

Nay MyoTun maintained that journalists have the right to publish interviews with those deemed terrorists, and had said in an earlier report following his arrest that VOM’s interview with the AA spokesman had been conducted according to established media practices and ethical principles.

“We have the right to interview, report, and publish as basic principles of free press and freedom of expression,” he said on Thursday. “These charges are not relevant to us.”

“[The] interview was done with the intention of how we could move on for peace in the country — not in support of a terrorist organization,” he added. “So I told them that I was not guilty of these charges.”

RFA was unable to reach Mandalay CID police for comment. (Source: RFA)