Journalist jailed for online post freed from Myanmar prison

AP News
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Posted: Mar 02, 2015 7:56 AM

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A journalist who was arrested for a Facebook post mocking Myanmar's leaders was freed from jail Monday without charge.

Aung Nay Myo expressed relief after walking out of Monywa prison, saying the charges against him were dropped and police had returned his seized computer and phones.

Police arrested the freelance photographer on Saturday, saying he would be charged for circulating rumors that can cause disaffection with the government under the 1950 Emergency Provision Act, which carries a maximum seven years in prison. The government uses the draconian law to persecute dissidents and political activists.

At least nine journalists and several publishers and media owners are serving prison sentences from two to seven years and nearly a dozen others are facing charges, undermining modest advances in media freedoms in Myanmar since a half-century of military rule ended.

Aung Nay Myo's Facebook post showed a parody of a poster for a movie about a 1971 battle between government troops and communist guerrillas, with Thein Sein and other national leaders substituting for the featured actors and director. Its intention seemed to be to mock the government's actions as similar to a cheesy army propaganda movie.

Thein Sein has led an elected, nominally civilian government since 2011, but the army remains dominant in administering the country.

Aung Nay Myo said that while he was happy to be going home, "these arbitrary arrests should not take place anymore."