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Authorities charge detained editor, manager, for possessing UN report on Burma, video of protests

(Mizzima/IFEX) - A newspaper editor-in-chief and a manager who have been detained by Burmese authorities since 15 February 2008 were charged under the Printers and Publishers Registration Act and moved to the notorious Insein prison on 25 February, family members said.

Khin Swe Myint, the wife of the detained "Myanmar Nation" editor-in-chief Thet Zin, told Mizzima that Military Affairs Security interrogated her husband and his colleague, Sein Win Maung, while they were held at the Thingangyun police station. She was told that they were charged under section 17/20 of the printing law for possessing a report by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar; a book by the famous ethnic Shan author, U Shwe Ohn, called "Unbreakable Union"; and video discs of the Saffron Revolution.

If found guilty, they face up to seven years of jail.

Khin Swe Myint said, "They were remanded to 14 days in police custody and the remand was to end on 29 February. But they were shifted to Insein prison on Monday. Since they have no spare clothes, I sent a parcel to them on Tuesday. (My husband) told me that he is in good health and his morale is high."

A "Myanmar Nation" staff member told Mizzima that the trial date has been set for 29 February. However, it is not certain whether it will take place at the Thingangyun police station or the Insein special court. Only family members who are listed on the registration form may attend the hearing.

The defendants have yet to decide whether to hire a lawyer. Khin Swe Myint told Mizzima that her husband had said there was no need because they would not win the case.

Meanwhile, employees of "Myanmar Nation" are facing difficulties as they no longer have jobs after the authorities closed the journal's office and stopped its publication.

"I told the reporters to continue their work. I told them I will try my best to print their news stories in other journals to earn some money for them. But it's not an easy job. I feel sorry for the staff and their families who are dependent on the journal at a time when many people are facing economic hardship," Khin Swe Myint said.

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