Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said on Thursday that two Reuters journalists imprisoned for investigating a massacre in Rakhine state were not convicted of being journalists, but because they violated the law.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were jailed for seven years last week for failing to comply with the country's Official Hard Law Secrets Act while reporting the atrocities committed during the military crackdown in Rakhine.
The ruling sparked a storm of global protests as an attack on freedom of expression, while former rights champion Suu Kyi was under intense pressure not to speak in defense of the couple.
She broke her silence on the issue on Thursday during a discussion at the World Economic Forum, firmly defending the court's decision to jail the duo.
"They were not imprisoned because they were journalists," but because "the court decided they had violated the Official Secrets Act," he said in his first direct comments on the subject.
Defying the critics of the verdict – including the United Nations, groups of rights that once stood out for her and the vice president of the United States. UU. – To "point out" where there has been a judicial error, Suu Kyi said that the case confirmed the rule of law.
"The case was held in a public hearing … I do not think anyone has bothered to read the judge's summary," he added.
The "demining operations" led by the army last August brought 700,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh, carrying with it widespread reports of atrocities – rape, murder and arson – by police and Myanmar troops.
Reuters reporters had denied the charges, insisting they were established while exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din in September last year.
This week, the UN human rights office accused Myanmar of "launching a campaign against journalists."
He denounced "the instrumentalization of the law and the courts by the government and the army in what constitutes a political campaign against independent journalism."
Suu Kyi, who has so far been irritated by foreign criticism of her country and has defended the offensive of the Muslim minority against the "terrorists", also addressed the handling of the crisis by the army.
"Of course, there are ways (in) that, in retrospect, the situation could have been handled better," he said in rare comments on the crackdown.
Myanmar has been subjected to intense diplomatic pressure in recent weeks, and the United Nations human rights office has highlighted its powerful military chief for his role in forcing the Rohingya to leave the country.
Rohingya without a state is denied citizenship in Myanmar and is widely denigrated in the country with a Buddhist majority.