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Another Democratic Voice of Burma reporter receives lengthy prison term

(Mizzima News/IFEX) - Reporter Ngwe Soe Lin of the Norway-based opposition radio station Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) was sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment on 28 January 2010 by the Rangoon Western District Court sitting inside Insein prison, close associates said.

Sources said Ngwe Soe Lin, 28, who lives in Rangoon's South Dagon Township, was charged under the Electronic and Immigration Emergency Provisions Acts, receiving terms of 10 and three years imprisonment, respectively.

Aung Thein, a lawyer for the accused, said, "We heard that he was interrogated and sentenced to imprisonment yesterday at about 4 p.m. with cases charged under section 33(a) of the Electronic Act and section 13(1) of the Immigration Emergency Provisions Act. He was given a total prison term of 13 years."

Ngwe Soe Lin had been recently honored with the Rory Peck Award for his work in documenting orphan victims of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma in the first week of May 2008.

The London-based Rory Peck Trust seeks recipients from across the world based on bravery in covering news. The award is named after British reporter Rory Peck, who was killed by a gunman while reporting from Moscow, Russia, in October 1993. Friends and his wife established the trust in 1995.

Giving journalists a long prison sentence is unjust, DVB (Thai) Bureau Chief Toe Zaw Latt said. "This is an unjust case. I think they would like to give a clear message to other reporters that if they do the same, they will be given similar punishment. However, we will continue to expose what's going on in Burma," he told Mizzima.

On 31 December 2009, another DVB reporter, Hla Hla Win, was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for violation of the Electronic Act. She had previously received a seven-year prison term for using an illegally acquired motorcycle.

Ngwe Soe Lin was arrested on 26 June 2009 as he was leaving an Internet cafe in Kyaukmyaung, Tamwe Township.

Aye Mee San told Mizzima that Tamwe Township Special Branch (SB) police, ward level Peace and Development Council (PDC) members as well as a police major came to their home and seized a video camera three days later, on 29 June.

She added that an appeal would be filed.

Ngwe Soe Lin was arrested along with National League for Democracy (NLD) Youth member Ngaing Ngan Lin, but the latter was later released on 29 August, noted Aung Thein. After being interrogated for over two months, Ngaing Ngan Lin was sent to Insein prison and allowed to see family members only after three-and-a-half months. He is suffering from beriberi disease and taking medication, according to his sister-in-law. Aung Tun Myint, elder brother of Ngwe Soe Lin, was also arrested for allegedly taking photographs of a polling booth in Rangoon's Hmawbi Township during the 2008 constitutional referendum. He was given three years' imprisonment, which he is currently serving in western Burma's Arakan state.

According to the Burma Media Association (BMA), at least 14 Burmese journalists were arrested and sentenced in 2009 after the 2007 September Saffron Revolution, in which monks spearheaded a protest against the junta.
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