(Reuters) – Two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have been detained in Myanmar since December 12, 2017. At the time of their arrest, they had been working on an investigation into the murder of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in the Rakhine State.
After six months of pre-trial hearings, a court Yangon accused journalists of violating the Official Secrets Act of the colonial era, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
The following are key events in the case:
Dec. 12-13, 2017
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are arrested in Yangon after being invited to meet with the police during dinner.
The government says they face charges under the Official Secrets Act.
Dec. 18, 2017
The army of Myanmar says it has discovered a mass grave in the village of Inn Din, in the western state of Rakhine.
Dec. 27, 2017
Reporters appear in court and are in preventive detention. Relatives say the couple told them they were arrested almost immediately after the police officers who met for the first time on the night of their arrest handed him the documents.
Jan. 10, 2018
Pre-trial hearings begin, with prosecutors bringing charges against journalists under the Official Secrets Act.
On the same day, the army says its soldiers killed 10 captured Muslims, whose bodies were discovered by security forces in the mass grave in Rakhine, during the insurgent attacks.
feb. 1, 2018
A police witness, Major Min Thant, says in the interrogation that the information in the documents that the journalists had in their hands at the time of their arrest had already been published in the newspaper reports.
The court denies a request for bail.
feb. 8, 2018
Reuters publishes the investigation in which the journalists had been working. It describes how security forces and local Rakhine Buddhists participated in the murder of the 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys buried in the common grave at Inn Din.
feb. 11, 2018
Myanmar says that action will be taken against members of its security forces in connection with the murders in Inn Din, but says it is not related to the Reuters report.
feb. 13, 2018
The United States urges the UN to hold the Myanmar military accountable for "ethnic cleansing" and reiterates demands for the release of reporters.
March 28, 2018
Attorneys for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are asking the court to dismiss the case, arguing there is insufficient evidence to support the charges against the couple.
March 29, 2018
Prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney joins the legal team representing the two Reuters journalists. "Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are being prosecuted simply because they reported the news," Clooney said in a statement.
April 20, 2018
Prosecution Witness Police captain Moe Yan Naing tells the court that a police brigadier general gave orders to trap Wa Lone by handing him "secret documents" and then arresting him . Prosecutors later argued that Moe Yan Naing should be declared an unreliable witness, but the judge rejected the request.
April 29, 2018
Moe Yan Naing is sentenced to one year in prison for violating the Disciplinary Act of the Myanmar Police when speaking with Wa Lone.
May 16, 2018
Police Head of Naing Lin, Officer Moe Yan Naing said that he was ordered to capture Wa Lone, tells the court that he met with journalists, but denies having told them delivered the documents.
June 11, 2018
A senior police officer denied during the interrogation of the defense lawyers that the journalists were subjected to sleep deprivation and asked if they were "spies" during the interrogations. Afterwards, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo confirm the details of their treatment, saying that they were interrogated every two hours by different officers for approximately three days.
July 2, 2018
Prosecutors and defense attorneys present the final arguments in the pre-trial phase of the case.
July 9, 2018
The Yangon court accuses Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of violating the Official Secrets Act. Both journalists declare themselves innocent.
The trial enters the trial phase, and the next hearing will be held on July 16.
The court's decision generates international criticism, and many countries, the United Nations and press freedom groups call for the release of journalists.