Friday, 5 September 2008

Journalist’s Arrest Triggers Regime Warning to Editors -Saw Myint Than

The Irrawaddy News

Editors of at least six Rangoon publications have been visited by the authorities and warned to avoid contacts with the Burmese media in exile and international news organizations in what is being seen as a new crackdown on the Burmese media.

The warning follows the arrest of the chief reporter of Flower News Journal, Saw Myint Than, who was reportedly charged with at least three offences, including an infringement of a section of the Electronics Act which bans contacts with unlawful organizations.

Saw Myint Than was interrogated by the police last week after he had reported on a Rangoon murder case. Burmese exiled media, including The Irrawaddy, reported on his interrogation, during which the journalist was reportedly accused of spreading rumors.

On Monday, nearly a week after his initial interrogation, he was arrested. The authorities also visited the offices of at least six Rangoon journals, including 7 Days and The Voice, and warned editors to avoid contacts with the exiled media and international news organizations.

The Irrawaddy’s editor, Aung Zaw, said
Saw Myint Than did not work for his publication.

"The regime is nervous and deeply concern about the anniversary of last September’s demonstrations," Aung Zaw said. "It knows very well that bloggers and reporters played a very important role in the September uprising. That's why it is now monitoring media groups in Burma very closely."

Aung Zaw also condemned the arrest of Saw Myint Than, saying it was a “great threat to freedom of expression in Burma.”

Rangoon-based correspondents Aung Thet Wine and Moe Aung Tin also contributed to this report.

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