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Reuters journalists remanded for another 14 days in Myanmar

Two Reuters journalists detained in Myanmar for the past two weeks were remanded in custody for a further two weeks on Wednesday.

In court, judge Ohn Myint granted the 14-day extension in the case of the journalists, Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, (photo) at the request of the police, who then took them to prison. They were previously being held in a police compound.

The two journalists were allowed to meet their families and their lawyer, who has been retained by Reuters, for the first time since their arrest.

They had worked on Reuters coverage of a crisis in the western state of Rakhine, where - according to United Nations’ estimates - about 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from a fierce military crackdown on militants.

They were detained on 12 December after they had been invited to meet police officials over dinner. The Ministry of Information has said they “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media” and faced charges under the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

The two journalists said they had not been mistreated in custody.

“The situation is okay,” Wa Lone said after the hearing.

“We will face it the best we can because we have never done anything wrong,” he said. “We have never violated the media law nor ethics. We will continue to do our best.”

Reuters has said the two journalists were being held for doing their jobs and should be freed.

Government officials from some of the world’s major nations, including the United States, Britain and Canada, as well as top UN officials, have called for their release. ■