Conflicts & War

Japanese journalist imprisoned in Myanmar deported

Tokyo, May 15 (EFE).- A Japanese reporter jailed in Myanmar for his coverage of the protests after the recent coup was deported Saturday after being released by Myanmar authorities at Tokyo’s request, according to local media reports.

Freelance reporter Yuki Kitazumi, 45, was arrested in Yangon on Apr. 18 and faced a sentence of up to three years in prison for allegedly spreading “fake news” and supporting the civil disobedience movement against the coup, but authorities withdrew the charges.

The journalist left after the Japanese government publicly requested his release and Tokyo “worked actively through various channels and at various levels with Myanmar,” Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Friday during a parliamentary committee.

Kitazumi, who arrived early Saturday morning at Tokyo’s Narita airport and is in good health, expressed “frustration” at “not being able to report on the situation in Yangon,” in statements to local media.

The independent journalist also said he received threats during his imprisonment, and said he intended to continue reporting on Myanmar from Japan because the people there “have asked him to broadcast to the world” what is happening.

Kitaizumi was arrested for the first time in late February while covering protests against the coup, although he was released on the same day. He was re-arrested in April and had been held in custody ever since.

Government newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar said Friday that although the journalist had violated some laws, the decision to release him was made “taking into account the cordial relations between Myanmar and Japan and in view of future bilateral relations.”

His release came amid a massive crackdown by the military junta against independent media and freedom of expression.

Since the Feb. 1 coup, the military has detained more than 40 journalists, issued arrest warrants for 20 and withdrawn the licenses of dozens of media outlets.

One of the journalists facing an arrest warrant is Mratt Kyaw Thu, a correspondent for EFE in Yangon, who managed to leave the country and has requested asylum in Germany.

On Wednesday, Myanmar journalist Min Nyo, working for Democratic Voice of Myanmar, was sentenced to three years in prison for his coverage of the protests against the coup.

Most Myanmar journalists are now living in hiding within their country or have gone abroad while continuing to report daily on the repression of the security forces in Myanmar. EFE


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