BANGKOK - A court in military-ruled Myanmar has sentenced a Japanese journalist to prison after he filmed an anti-government protest in July, a Japanese diplomat said Thursday.
Toru Kubota was sentenced Wednesday to seven years for violating the electronic transactions law and three years for incitement, said Tetsuo Kitada, deputy chief of mission of the Japanese embassy. The sentences were to be served concurrently. A charge of violating immigration law is believed to still be pending.
The electronic transactions law covers offenses that involve spreading false or provocative information online, and carries a prison term of seven to 15 years. Incitement is a catch-all political law covering activities deemed to cause unrest, and has been used frequently against journalists and dissidents, usually with a three-year prison term.
Kubota was arrested on July 30 by plainclothes police in Yangon, the country's largest city, after taking photos and videos of a flash protest against Myanmar's 2021 takeover by the military, which ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Kubota was the fifth foreign journalist detained in Myanmar after the military seized power. U.S. citizens Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster, who worked for local publications, and freelancers Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan were eventually deported before serving complete prison sentences.
Roughly 150 journalists in all have been arrested, with more than half released, but the media remains under tight restrictions. Free media are forced to operate underground or from abroad.