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Myanmar video journalist jailed for 20 years: rights groups

world Updated: Jan 06, 2010 16:42 IST

A Myanmar court has handed down a 20-year jail term to a video journalist who worked with exiled media, rights groups said on Wednesday, as the ruling junta continues its crackdown on dissent.

Freelance reporter Hla Hla Win, 25, was arrested in September after visiting a Buddhist monastery in the town of Pakokku, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association said in a joint statement.

Hla Hla Win was sentenced by a court in Pakokku on December 31 for an alleged violation of the country's Electronics Act, the groups said. A woman accompanying her was sentenced to 26 years in jail, they added. There was no immediate confirmation of the sentence from authorities in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, which remains under tight US and EU sanctions because of its record on human rights.

"We are outraged that this young woman has been given a 20-year jail term," the two organisations said in the statement. The jailed reporter had worked with the Myanmar exile broadcaster "Democratic Voice of Burma" based in Norway, which described the sentence as "unjust", the statement said.

"People had been expecting signs of an opening and goodwill gestures from the military junta in this election year, but this extremely severe sentence on a 25-year-old video maker and the junta chief's recent threatening comments leave little hope that the elections will be free," they said.