A young reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma has been given an additional 10 years in prison after being found guilty of breaching Burma’s notorious Electronics Act.
Sithu Zeya is already serving an eight-year jail term for his work for DVB. The 21-year-old has been held at Insein Prison in Rangoon since his arrest in April last year, after he was caught photographing the aftermath of the deadly Rangoon grenade attack.
His lawyer, Aung Thein, confirmed the extension under the Electronic Transactions Act Article 33 (a) to DVB, adding that they would appeal the decision at the Rangoon divisional high court at the end of September, a verdict which although Aung Thein was not hopeful about, said would have greater authority than today’s ruling.
Aung Thein further stated that Sithu Zeya was in court when the verdict was read out at around 2 p.m. this afternoon.
Journalist rights group Reporters Without Borders’ Benjamin Ismail responded to the news by stating that the group were “outraged” at the decision, which they described as “unacceptable”. Shawn Crispin of the Commitee to Protect Journalists joined the condemnation, telling DVB:
“Today’s punitive sentencing of DVB reporter Sithu Zeya further shows that nothing has changed for the press under Burma’s new government”.
Aung Thein claimed his client was not angered by the ruling, also adding that he appeared in good health. Sithu Zeya’s father, U Zeya, is also serving a lengthy jail term for working for DVB. There are a total of 17 DVB journalists behind bars.
Sithu Zeya was initially charged under the Unlawful Associations Act and the Immigration Act for illegally traveling to the Thai border town of Mae Sot. DVB however is not officially an ‘unlawful association’ under Burmese law.