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Letpadan police in Pegu Division today arrested Wunna Tun, a local DVB reporter, and charged him under Article 68(a) of the Telecommunications Act, which covers the “distribution of incorrect information.”
Wunna Tun presented himself to the police after village administrator Naing Oo from Yayngan in Letpadan Township filed a motion to sue the journalist in connection with a news story he reported in 2016.
“The suit was actually filed a long time ago,” said Wunna Tun. “But with all the police procedures, including seeking a warrant and legal advice, it took until 1 April for the police to summon me.”
The dispute centres on a report that village administrators were exaggerating the acreage owned by local farmers so that they could secure higher loans.
Naing Oo originally attempted to sue the reporter for “online defamation” under Burma’s highly controversial Article 66(d), also of the Telecommunications Act, but he was persuaded by police to instead file charges under 68(a), which covers: “communications, reception, transmission, distribution or conveyance of incorrect information with dishonesty or participation.”
If found guilty, Wunna Tun could be jailed for up to one year.
According to DVB records, the story was read out by a presenter during a TV news broadcast, but did not carry images or a sound file.
The village administrator laid the charges after the file was shared on social media, thus coming under the wide umbrella of the Telecommunications Act.
Wunna Tun was released on 1 million kyats (US$750) bail.
Read more about the controversy surrounding Article 66(d) HERE