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Myanmar junta jails Japanese filmmaker for 10 years

AFP – Myanmar’s junta has jailed a Japanese filmmaker for 10 years, more than two months after he was arrested while filming an anti-coup protest, the military said yesterday.

The military has clamped down on press freedoms since its coup last year, arresting reporters and photographers as well as revoking broadcasting licences while the country plunged into chaos.

Toru Kubota, 26, was detained near an anti-government rally in commercial hub Yangon in July along with two Myanmar citizens.

He was sentenced on Wednesday to seven years in jail for breaching a law that criminalises spreading information detrimental to state security and peace and tranquility, a junta spokesman said in a statement.

It added he had also received a three-year sentence for encouraging dissent against the military – a charge that has been widely used in the crackdown. The sentences would be served concurrently, the junta statement added.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said it had been providing consular support and would “continue to appeal for the early release of Mr Kubota”.

The filmmaker had arrived in Myanmar in July and was filming a “documentary featuring a Myanmar person”, his friend Yoshitaka Nitta told a press conference in Tokyo in August.

According to a profile on the FilmFreeway website, Kubota has previously made documentaries on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority and “refugees and ethnic issues in Myanmar”.

The Insein prison in Yangon. PHOTO: AFP

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