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Japanese journalist charged in Myanmar for spreading false news

By Reuters 4 May 2021
Caption
YANGON, MYANMAR - FEBRUARY 08: Protesters make three-finger salutes and hold up banners and posters as they march on February 08, 2021 in downtown Yangon, Myanmar. Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets in addition to protesters who had continued a campaign of civil disobedience over the last week. The movement represents the biggest challenge to the military junta, also known as the Tadmadaw, who on Feb. 1 staged a coup against the elected National League For Democracy (NLD) government and detained de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in more than a decade. (Photo by Stringer/Getty Images)

May 4 (Reuters) - A Japanese journalist detained in Myanmar last month has been charged with spreading false news, an official at the Japanese embassy in Yangon said on Tuesday, amid a crackdown on media since the military seized power three months ago.

Yuki Kitazumi, who had been picked up from his home by troops and taken into custody on April 19, is the first foreign journalist to be charged since the military ousted the elected government of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Kitazumi, who was being held at Insein Prison in Yangon, has been charged under section 505A of the penal code, which criminalises comments that could cause fear or spread false news and is punishable by up to three years in jail.

The Myanmar authorities have not supplied information on the details of the alleged offences, said a Japanese embassy official, who declined to be named.

A spokesman for the junta did not respond to calls asking for comment.

Kitazumi runs a media production company, Yangon Media Professionals, and used to be a journalist with the Nikkei business daily, according to his Facebook page and interviews with online media.

He was arrested previously in February while covering protests against the Feb. 1 coup but was released soon afterwards.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group, 766 people have been killed by security forces since the coup and more than 3,600 remain in detention, including Suu Kyi.

Both the Japanese government and Japanese journalists have called for his release.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff, Writing by Ed Davies, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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