EDITOR'S NOTE - THIS UPDATED PACKAGE INCLUDES TODAY VIDEO FROM THE COURT AND SOUNDBITES FROM REUTERS' EDITOR-IN CHIEF, STEPHEN J.
ADLER, THE DEFENSE LAWYER, AND THE WIFE OF KYAW SOE OO A High Court in Myanmar has rejected an appeal by two Reuters reporters who have been sentenced to seven years in jail.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were found guilty in September of breaking the Official Secrets Act.
It's a landmark case that has raised questions about Myanmar's progress towards democracy, and sparked an outcry from diplomats, human rights advocates and colleagues.
SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, STEPHEN J.
ADLER, SAYING: 'Today's ruling is yet another injustice inflicted upon Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.
They remain behind bars for one reason - those in power sought to silence the truth.
Reporting is not a crime, and until Myanmar rights this terrible wrong the press is not free and Myanmar's commitment to rule of law and democracy remains in doubt.'
The wives of the journalists watched as their husbands' appeal was rejected.
SOUNDBITE (Burmese) KYAW SOE OO'S WIFE, CHIT SU WIN, SAYING: "We believed that they will be released.
We still believe in their release." On Friday (January 11), a high court judge called the seven-year prison term meted out by a lower court "a suitable punishment." SOUNDBITE (Burmese) DEFENCE LAWYER, THAN ZAW AUNG, SAYING: "The high court did not consider the facts of our appeal.
The seven-year sentence was re-confirmed as the verdict of the district court.
Our appeal was rejected." The defense has the option of making a further appeal to the country's supreme court in the capital Naypyitaw.
In their appeal arguments made in December, the reporters' defense lawyers had cited evidence of a police set-up and lack of proof of a crime.
They told the appeal court the lower court that tried the case had wrongly placed the burden of proof on the defendants.
And that prosecutors had failed to prove the reporters gathered secret information, sent information to an enemy of Myanmar, or had any intention of harming national security.
The judge said the defendants did not follow journalistic ethics and that the court couldn't determine whether the arrest of the reporters was a trap.
A lawyer representing the government told the appeal hearing there was evidence the reporters had collected confidential documents, and that they intended to harm national security and the national interest.
Before their arrest, the reporters had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians in western Myanmar's Rakhine State.
It took place during an army crackdown that started in August 2017.
The United Nations estimates the operation sent 730,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.