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Opposition journalist freed after six weeks in detention; two others moved to remote jails

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association welcome the 11 December 2008 release of Ohn Kyaing, a former journalist and member of the opposition National League for Democracy, who was arrested at his home on 1 October and held in Rangoon's Insein prison.

"We are relieved to learn of Ohn Kyaing's release," the two organisations said. "There has been a wave of arrests of journalists and opposition members for the past six months. At least six journalists are currently in prison for covering the suffering of the victims of last May's cyclone. They include the famous blogger and comedian Zarganar, who is serving a 59-year prison sentence in Myitkyina prison in the northern state of Kachin."

NLD spokesman Nyan Win said Ohn Kyaing was in good shape and had returned to his home. "I am very happy that Ohn Kyaing was freed but it is very unfair that he was held in prison for such a long time without committing any crime," Nyan Win said.

In a separate development, Zaw Thet Htwe, a sports journalist who was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison, has been transferred from Rangoon's Insein prison to a prison near Taunggyi, in the eastern state of Shan. His family must now make an overnight trip in order to visit him.

Zaw Thet Htwe was arrested at the same time as blogger and comedian Zarganar in June, when they were channelling assistance to the victims of the previous month's Cyclone Nargis. A special court operating inside Insein prison sentenced him on 21 November to 15 years in prison, above all for taking photos during the referendum held in May. He was given an additional four years in prison on the same charges on 27 November.

Finally, Thant Zin Aung, an independent video journalist who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for "disobedience" in the same trial as Zarganar and Zaw Thet Htwe, has been transferred to Pa-an prison, in the eastern state of Karen. He was arrested at the airport as he was about to fly to Thailand with a video showing the destruction caused by the cyclone in the Irrawaddy delta.

Updates the Kyaing case:

Updates the Zaw Thet Htwe and Thant Zin Aung cases:

For further information on the Zarganar case, see:

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