Two Reuters journalists have been sentenced to seven years in prison for violating a state secrets act while investigating violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.
BBC reports that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Myanmar nationals were arrested while carrying official documents which had just been given to them by police officers.
Judge Ye Lwin told the court in Yangon the pair had “intended to harm the interests of the state”. “And so they have been found guilty under the state secrets act,” he said.
The journalists have maintained their innocence, saying they were set up by police.
The case has been widely seen as a test of press freedom in Myanmar.
“I have no fear,” Wa Lone, one of the two journalists, said after the verdict. “I have not done anything wrong. I believe in justice, democracy and freedom.”
The two men, who both have families with young children, have been in prison since their arrest in December 2017.
“Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and press freedom anywhere,” Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, had been collecting evidence about the execution of 10 men by the army in the village of Inn Din in northern Rakhine.
During their investigation, they were offered documents by two police officers, but were arrested immediately afterwards for the possession of those documents.
Authorities later launched their own probe into the killings, confirming the massacre took place and promising to take action against those who had taken part.
The verdict has been widely criticised by observers and human rights groups as well as the United Nations.
The ruling comes a year after the crisis in Rakhine state came to a head when a Rohingya militant group attacked several police posts.
The military responded with a brutal crackdown against the Rohingya minority.
Media access to Rakhine is strictly controlled by the government so it is difficult to get reliable news from the region.