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Myanmar ex-information minister arrested

BANGKOK (AFP) – Myanmar’s former information minister has been arrested and charged with encouraging dissent against the military, the junta said yesterday, the latest in a series of high-profile arrests.

In recent months the military, who have faced armed resistance since seizing power in a 2021 coup, have detained a number of trade and commerce officials as the civil conflict batters Myanmar’s already struggling economy.

Ye Htut was information minister and presidential spokesperson under the military government of Thein Sein, which ceded power to Aung San Suu Kyi following 2015’s landmark elections.

In a statement, the junta information team said the 64-year-old had been detained on Saturday evening in connection with “spreading wrong information on social media”.

“U Ye Htut was arrested last night and charged under section 505 (a),” a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity and without giving further detail.

Ye Htut, then Myanmar’s Minister of Information talks to the media. PHOTO: AFP

Section 505 outlaws any action deemed to undermine the military. The law carries a maximum jail term of three years. His arrest comes a week after pro-junta Telegram channels accused him of exposing the address of a retired military officer on social media.

Thein Sein’s administration permitted some economic and social liberalisation – including granting Suu Kyi’s opposition party access to mainstream politics – but also oversaw waves of deadly religious violence.

Ye Htut earned the moniker “the Facebook Minister” at the time for his frequent posting on the social media network, which was among the country’s most popular.

Following his retirement he remained active on the platform, sharing details about his travels.

He last posted on October 27 during a trip to Inle Lake, a popular spot for tourists.