Death sentence for Burmese whistleblowers

Jan 8, 2010 (DVB), Two Burmese government officials accused of leaking sensitive information about secretive diplomatic trips to Russia and North Korea are to be executed, a Rangoon court has announced.

Another man, a civilian, was handed a 15-year prison sentence after a two-month trial in a closed court inside Rangoon's Insein prison.

The three are also accused of leaking details of the Burmese government's secret military tunnel project, which have been obtained by DVB.

Win Naing Kyaw, an ex-army major who had worked as a personal assistant for late junta secretary-2, General Tin Oo, was yesterday given the death sentence under Section 3 of the Emergency Provisions Act. He was also charged under the Electronics Act and the Official Secrets Act.

Thura Kyaw, also known as Aung Aung, a senior clerk from the Burmese foreign ministry's European desk, was also given the death sentence under the Emergency Provision Act, while Pyan Sein was sentenced to 15 years' in prison under the Electronics Act.

Intelligence documents leaked by the three men detailed two senior level governmental visits to North Korea and Russia, as well as North Korea's involvement in the tunnels project.

According to the documents, Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has been developing the tunnels since 1996. During the visit to Russia in 2006, Burma's second-in-command, Maung Aye, discussed the procurement of a guided missile system with Moscow's deputy minister of defense, Yury Nikolayevich Baluyevsky.

Then in 2008, General Shwe Mann, joint chief of staff of the Burmese army, visited North Korea where he observed tunnel complexes dug deep into the side of mountains that can hold heavy armoury, including chemical weapons.

The information about the two trips was allegedly distributed via former government official Aung Linn Htut, who is now living in exile after authorities found the documents stored in his computer hard drive.

A number of other army officials were also been detained in connection with the case.

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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