A veteran Myanmar journalist, arrested after criticising an ultra-nationalist Buddhist monk, was on Monday transferred to prison in Mandalay, awaiting to be likely charged with criminal defamation.
Mr. Swe Win, Chief Editor at a local news website, Myanmar Now, was detained at the airport in the commercial capital of Yangon on Sunday night as he attempted to board a flight to Bangkok.
He had been facing lawsuits filed by supporters of powerful Buddhist nationalist group Ma Ba Tha earlier this year after he shared a Facebook post that accused the firebrand monk Wirathu.
This violated the Buddhist code of monastic discipline.
Win was set to meet with police to discuss the charges in August, but was not fleeing the country at the time of his arrest, his legal advisor, Khin Myint said.
The lawyer said Win is likely to be charged under 66D of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Law, a controversial statute increasingly used against journalists and activists in Myanmar.
State counselor, Aung Kyi has said that government is considering amending the law, but human rights groups have called for it to be scrapped.
Speaking after his arrest on Sunday, Win said that he hoped his case would pressure the government to get rid of the law, the Democratic Voice of Burma reported.
“It is good that this has happened. I have got to tackle this. The law should not exist,” he reportedly said. “It will be good for the citizens as well.”
The arrest has attracted social media comments, including a tweet of Yan which said: “This is horrible. Ko Swe Win from @Myanmar_Now_Eng is one of the best and most respected journalists in Myanmar and a friend of mine.”
Wai Wai Nu also tweeted saying that, “Ko Swe Win, Editor of #Myanmar Now,is arrested under telecommunication act 66,D today. Stop abusing freedom of expression and press freedom.”
“Ko Swe Win has been arrested after months of Ma Ba Tha trying to silence his reporting. Abolish 66(d). Strip these bigots of their power,” Connor Macdonald tweeted.
Minka said: “Darkness descending” Shock, disbelief and anger in #Myanmar media community about arrest of another prominent journalist Swe Win.” (Reuters/NAN)