Myanmar detains two newspaper officials in defamation case
YANGON – ReutersPolice on Nov. 11 detained the chief executive and the chief editor of Myanmar’s largest daily newspaper over a defamation case by a powerful politician following a Facebook posting.
The police detained Than Htut Aung, the flamboyant chief executive of Eleven Media Group and the newspaper’s chief editor, Wai Phyo, after Yangon’s regional government sued them for defamation over a social media post alleging corruption.
The two have been charged under Myanmar’s controversial telecommunication law, which human rights monitors have criticized as being too broadly worded.
The law prohibits use of the telecoms network to “extort, threaten, obstruct, defame, disturb, inappropriately influence or intimidate.”
Rights monitors have raised concerns over media freedom in Myanmar after a journalist at an English-language newspaper said she was fired following government criticism of her reporting on a crisis in Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state.
The two journalists were summoned to the police station after the lawsuit was filed over the posting by Than Htut Aung, said Lt-Col. Myint Htwe, the head of the Yangon Eastern District police force.
“Than Htut Aung, the chief executive of Eleven Media Group, and chief editor Wai Phyo came to our station and surrendered themselves at 1:00 p.m. Nov. 11,” he told Reuters.
The journalists, who followed their newspaper story on Nov. 6 with the Facebook posting adding details the next day, said their information came from two business people, whom they have refused to identify.