A Myanmar police officer testified Friday that he and several colleagues were ordered to entrap two reporters working for the Reuters news agency, dealing a major blow to the government's case against the journalists.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been detained since December 12 on charges of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act that could get them up to 14 years in prison. The two helped cover the crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine state, where a brutal counterinsurgency operation last year drove about 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to neighboring Bangladesh.
Police Capt. Moe Yan Naing told the court that his superior had arranged for two policemen to meet the reporters at a restaurant and hand over documents described as "important secret papers" in order to entrap them.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, counsel for the two journalists and Reuters, called on the prosecution to drop the case immediately, and if not she said the district judge should dismiss it.
Security forces in Rakhine have been accused of serious human rights violations, including rape and extrajudicial killings, against the persecuted ethnic Rohingya Muslims. Last week, Myanmar's military announced it had sentenced seven soldiers to 10 years in prison for their part in the killings, a case covered by the two reporters.